— Not many sophomores have the talent to play a role on Class 5A varsity teams, let alone start in the midst of a senior-laden secondary.
Port Arthur Memorial sophomore safety C.J. Levine has been starting since Day 1 and has never looked back. The 5-foot-10, 165 pounder is second on the team in both tackles and interceptions, solidifying his place on this Titans squad.
“He’s played a very big role for us,” Memorial head coach Kenny Harrison said. “He was a quarterback in our system last year and he’s still a quarterback. We’re just trying to find a way to get our best athletes on the field and with him being one of our top athetes, we put him on defense. That way, he can play as a sophomore instead of sitting on varsity as a backup QB. He’s one of the top athletes in our program. We recognized that a year ago, when he was a top player on the freshman team.”
Levine, whose first name is Cornelius but who goes by C.J., first caught Harrison’s eye when he and his Pop Warner football team went to the National Super Bowl in Florida. Levine was one of three varsity players on that team, including junior receivers Tayyor Labrie and Albert Jacobs.
“I’ve been watching C.J. play and knowing what kind of athlete he’s been since Pop Warner football,” Harrison said. “He was one of the young men that played on the team that went to Florida. He’s been a tremendous athlete for a long time. He’s a young man we’ve had targeted since he was in Pop Warner football.”
Levine had been a quarterback but played all over the field on both sides of the ball. He was asked last spring to move to defense because a spot might be open there for him. At that point, he took it and ran, becoming the first Titan sophomore to start most of his team’s games since Darius Lemora.