Rockdale’s Jason Redmond dribbles the ball during a high school match.

Presented with a prestigious opportunity in soccer, Jason Redmond put pen to paper in early March and listed the pros and cons of the offer.

The pros won.

The Rockdale County star planned to join the academy team of Crystal Palace, an English Premier League club in south London, England, and continue his studies abroad at the University of Roehampton.

Then the coronavirus pandemic disrupted everything, ending his senior season of high school early and blocking his path to England — he likely will have to wait until 2021 to join the club.

“(The Crystal Palace coaches) were very excited, we were both excited,” said Redmond, who planned to play soccer for the U.S. Air Force Academy until the pro soccer option arose. “Then this whole pandemic thing took off and postponed the move to England. They don’t want too many foreigners coming over there. … It was a big downer because I sacrificed a lot senior year and I was hoping it would work out in the end. But the pandemic came out of nowhere. I’ll find another way keep moving forward.”

Redmond expects to start college somewhere in the fall. He is a high level student with a 3.7 GPA (4.0 weighted) with an interest in film, a major that made Roehampton a good choice. The London college offers a three-year program to earn a bachelor’s degree. He was supposed to visit the school on Spring Break, but the coronavirus also prevented that trip.

Instead of playing overseas, Redmond is considering other options, which could be attending and playing for a college in Georgia, or possibly at a prep school in North Carolina alongside other Americans bound for Crystal Palace. Ideally, he would be on his way to England now.

“My plan was to play in (Crystal Palace’s) league play against a lot of professional academies and get scouted by the first team of other professional teams, get name out there and hopefully move to a professional team,” Redmond said.

Pro soccer has been the goal, a unique one for a kid from a basketball family, since an early age. He started basketball when he was 3, but soccer took over his life around fourth grade.

He became soccer crazy and a fan of both Manchester United and Cristiano Ronaldo (the reason he wears No. 7).

“As soon as I picked up a soccer ball, I felt alive,” he said. “I don’t know how to describe it.”

Redmond attended Columbus High his first two high school seasons after living previously in North Carolina and Savannah. He moved to metro Atlanta for better soccer opportunities, joining the Kalonji Soccer Academy for club ball.

His move to the area was a big boost for Rockdale as he earned first-team All-Region 8-AAAAAAA honors as a junior and was a preseason Super Six selection this year by the Citizen.

“(Redmond) is essentially the ideal student-athlete we want all players to be in school,” Rockdale coach Jeremiah Namkoong said. “With the immense amount of individual talent he has, he is extremely diligent and humble in the way he handles himself as a student-athlete. He is always striving to be better and make his team better by always reflecting on himself, taking his coaches’ advice, and encouraging his teammates with constructive criticism. When it comes to on the field, he elevates our offense to another level with his skillful play, ball distribution and fluid movement.”

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