COCOA, Fla. — When Bruce Judson showed up at Cocoa High School in the summer of his eighth grade year, most people probably thought he came to apply for a job.
Florida offensive guard signee Jawaan Taylor, a freshman at the time, was taken aback by Judson as soon as he saw him.
“A 14-year-old with a full mustache is kind of weird,” Taylor recalled. “But when we brought him out to the football field and saw him play, we knew this was the kid we needed at Cocoa.”
Judson, who is nicknamed “The ’Stache,” has been a standout player in his three years with the Tigers. He’s an electric athlete who serves as their starting quarterback in dual-threat fashion.
That talent has made him a consensus four-star recruit with 30 offers to his name. He could play cornerback, wide receiver or running back in college.
Over the past two years, Judson has become a popular player because of his trademark mustache.
“He’s always had the ’stache,” Cocoa coach John Wilkinson said. “It’s just his look, and that’s what he likes.”
Judson, however, wasn’t always a fan of his facial hair. It first started growing in during his eighth grade year, and he wanted to shave it off.
Judson’s father, who also had a mustache as a teenager, convinced him against it.
“I told my dad to get it off my face,” Judson said. “But he told me if I do that it’s going to come back thicker, so I just trimmed it.”
The middle schooler quickly realized the benefits of being young with a full-grown mustache.
“When people started thinking I was older because I had one, that’s when I decided to keep it,” Judson said. “The ladies like it. And if they don’t, it doesn’t matter because it’s not going anywhere. Too late now.”
When Judson began making highlight-reel plays for Cocoa, the requests started coming in for Wilkinson.
“Coaches want to see his birth certificate. We get that all the time,” Wilkinson said. “They say he has to be at least 30. There’s this funny picture online of him and Eddie Murphy side by side.”
There may be something to the Murphy comparison. Judson welcomes any and all jokes about his mustache.
“Bring it on,” Judson said. “When someone talks about my mustache, I got the leeway to say something back. I got a lot of jokes, so I’m going to clown on them. My teammates know better than to make fun of me.”
Taylor has called Judson “caterpillar” before, but he’s grown to appreciate and respect the ’stache.
“He pulls it off good, better than anybody I’ve seen,” said Taylor, who has a chin strap. “I won’t ever get a mustache, though. I can’t do it like him.”
Judson considers the look part of his brand and image. College coaches and fellow recruits all know him for his famous facial hair.
“When I was in Georgia for the Rivals camp,” Judson said, “all the kids came up to me and said, ‘You’re the boy with the mustache.’ That’s how they knew me, so I like it.
“I’ll always be remembered as the boy who looked 30 years old playing high school football.”