Julian “BJ” Lovett is back on the Morrisville State College Mustang football roster. This time, he's on the other side of the gridiron, trading his pads and jersey for a whistle.
The former Mustang NJCAA All-American wide receiver, who went on to a professional career as a player in the National Football League (NFL), has returned to his alma mater to coach the wide receivers.
It's been quite the homecoming for Lovett who's kicking off an exciting season for the Morrisville Mustangs football team amid completion of a new athletic stadium.
The impressive, multi-purpose stadium boasts a blanket of new turf, a press box with a sweeping view of a field flanked by lights, and a hospitality suite. There is a concession stand, an officiating room, home and visiting locker rooms, and seating for 1,800 fans.
The college will hold a grand opening for the stadium on Sept. 25 during Mustang Weekend. The celebration begins with a tailgate party at 11 a.m. in the stadium parking lot, with complimentary hot dogs and hamburgers, followed by a Morrisville State College homecoming football game versus the Montclair State Red Hawks at noon.
The sports addition fields many opportunities for Morrisville State College athletics and the community. Serving as home turf for six of Morrisville's 16 athletic teams, it also provides competition and hospitality space for regional sporting, cultural and community events, and is helping to build a stronger home team pride.
That spirit is already ingrained in Lovett, a six-foot-four-inch football standout who stepped off of the field at Morrisville for the last time in 2000. In 20 games with the Mustangs, he caught 79 passes for 1,230 yards and 11 touchdowns, and is ranked second in career leaders in total receiving yards.
He went on to earn accolades at Michigan State University, including the Downtown Coaches Club Award, Most Outstanding Offensive Player honors, and a bachelor degree, then played two years of professional ball with the San Diego Chargers and the Cleveland Browns. He also played in the Arena Football League (AFL) with the Dayton Warbirds.
A native of Belle Glades, Fla., where he played high school football at the nationally prominent Glades Central High School, Lovett was introduced to the sport by his older brother and has had his hands in the game ever since.
He followed avid football friends to Morrisville State, where he earned an associate degree in business administration, graduating in 2001.
“I remember being excited about my future and sad I was leaving Morrisville where I had spent two years of my life,” he said. “I knew I would come back but never imagined myself coaching here.”
When he heard about the coaching opening and the new stadium, along with the growth in Morrisville State College athletics, including the switch to NCAA Division III and joining the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) in football, it rallied his Mustang pride.
“I jumped on the chance to come back to coach at Morrisville,” said Lovett, who celebrated his 30th birthday last month. “I am honored to be back here as a coach.”
Returning is a rush of emotions for Lovett.
“Football is my passion,” he said. “This is where my heart is. This is my chance to give back what was given to me.”
As for settling in, it hasn't been difficult for Lovett, especially on the field where he hopes to pass on some of his talent and lessons he learned as a former player.
That experience and his focus and dedication have helped with the seamless transition from football player to coach.
Even though it is his first taste of coaching college football, it isn't his first time leading a team. Prior to coming to Morrisville, Lovett worked with Opportunity Sports, in Austin, Texas, an organization which offers competitive sports, like NFL youth flag football, to children.
Coaching tips also came from others, coaches and former teammates, but Lovett prefers a combination of his own techniques and strategies to make an impact on the team.
“I am a very vocal coach,” said Lovett who refers to his coaching style as a tough love approach. “I break them of bad habits on the field before we proceed.”
Terry Dow, head football coach, is confident Lovett is a coaching asset that will help build this year's team.
“BJ coaches like he played; with a tremendous amount of passion, and that fits our style here perfectly,” Dow said.
It all translates into an exciting season of play for Mustang fans.
“We have a lot of play makers on offensive from the quarterback to returning receivers and freshmen who can stretch the field vertically,” Lovett said. “We plan to put a lot of points on the board for the fans this year.”
While the new stadium has yet to be named, the field will keep its current name, Drake Field.
Morrisville State College, considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiatives, offers more than 80 bachelor and associate degrees and options.