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High School Sports

Upland’s Justin Flowe considered California’s top linebacker prospect in more than a decade

Justin Flowe (No. 10) and Jonathan Flowe (No. 44) await a snap against La Habra on Aug. 22.
Justin Flowe (No. 10) and Jonathan Flowe (No. 44) await a snap against La Habra on Aug. 22.
(Shotgun Spratling / For The Times)

Begin to type Upland High five-star linebacker Justin Flowe’s name into a Google search and the search engine begins to autofill popular prior inquiries. One of the first is “Justin Flowe age.”

You’ll have to forgive outsiders if they don’t believe the high school senior isn’t already a grown man. At 6 feet 2, 225 chiseled pounds, he already looks and plays like he is. He has been playing beyond his years since his youth football days when he earned the nickname “Babyman.” Flowe was participating in an older-age division, going against kids one and two years older, but was dominating with stiff arms, long runs and big hits.

That domination has not waned.

Flowe has been a YouTube and social media sensation for his numerous big plays, including suplexing a La Habra player earlier this season. He is the top linebacker recruit in the nation, per the 247Sports Composite rankings, and many believe he is the best Southern California linebacker prospect in more than a decade.

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“I’ve never coached an NFL player and if Justin is not one, I don’t know who is. But I think maybe in three or four years, Justin will be in the first round,” Upland coach Darryl Thomas said. “We all know the intangibles. He’s physical and he’s strong and he’s fast and violent. He’s really starting to understand the defense and I mean his instincts and his reads are pretty, pretty remarkable.”

Thomas has had the fortune of having multiple Flowes in the middle of his defense. Younger brother, Jonathan, played outside linebacker beside Justin this year after playing defensive end as a sophomore last season.

Jonathan has a leaner body type at 6 feet 1, 200 pounds. He’s followed in Justin’s footsteps every step of the way, including playing up an age group in youth football. And like big brother, Jonathan is always in attack mode.

“I like coming off the edge just like super fast and just taking someone’s head off,” Jonathan said with a laugh. “He made it to where I have to do good in my high school. I have to really just be the best because in his freshman year he was already getting a whole bunch of offers, so it made me in the eighth grade, I had to be just like him, coming into high school.”

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Jonathan is a four-star prospect in the 2021 class and just like Justin, he has a slew of scholarship offers from around the nation. Some schools have tried to sell Justin on a potential package deal with his brother joining him in college after a year, but it’s not something that has interested either. Jonathan wants to earn his way on his own merits and Justin’s advice has been for Jonathan to focus on what he wants and not anything anyone else wants. Those things could still align for the two to play together in college, but for now they’re each taking things slowly.

It’s USC vs. UCLA on Saturday, which means Southern California high school football coaches have plenty to say about the rivalry game.

Jonathan wants to visit a number of schools this offseason. He has picked Justin’s brain after his trips to colleges around the country, but before the season, Jonathan only joined his brother for visits to Miami and Louisiana State. He wants to see for himself what each school has to offer.

Justin trimmed his list down to a top four of Clemson, Georgia, Miami and Oregon in August. He has taken official visits to Miami and Clemson the last two weekends and has trips to Georgia and Oregon planned. As for a fifth and final official visit, he has left the door cracked slightly for a couple of other schools, including USC.

“It’s just up in the air. It’s depending on how I’m feeling. If I want to go take a fifth one, I’m going to go. If I see a school I want to like check out, then yea,” Justin said.

Justin plans to make his final choice public during the first day of the December signing period, but things may not really hit him until he leaves for college and leaves Jonathan behind, at least for a year.

“It’s gonna be really weird [next year] because that’s my little brother, but I know he’s going to still do what he’s got to do and just take care of business,” Justin said.

Jonathan quickly added: “I’ve been playing with him over all the past years, so it’s going to be kind of weird not having him right by me.”


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