The reluctant quarterback: Hampton's Jamall Brown is taking charge
Hampton's Jamall Brown (Adrin Snider)
But Hampton senior Jamall Brown is there reluctantly, and only out of necessity. After missing time last year with a broken wrist, he thought he'd finally get back to playing his natural position — wide receiver. But when the Crabbers' likely QB1 injured his hand in an automobile accident, Brown was moved to quarterback.
"I was ready to go into the season playing receiver, but finding out I had to play quarterback just sort of … changed things," he said. "It's a little rough having to go from receiver to quarterback, having to throw the ball and learn the plays. But I can handle it. I should be able to handle it."
Brown grew up playing quarterback in youth leagues, but with the Crabbers he's been used strictly as a receiver on offense. He had "QB" beside his name on the roster, but he's never taken a snap in a game.
He's such a promising wideout that the University of Virginia offered him a scholarship despite the limited time he saw a year ago. Brown caught six passes for 136 yards, numbers that would have been better had he not broken his wrist in practice after the first game.
But Brown apparently floored Cavaliers coach Mike London with his camp performance this summer. London offered about two weeks later, and Brown needed little time to think about it. He grew up rooting for U.Va., where his close friend, former Crabber Almondo "Muffin" Curry, played from 2000-03.
Brown's commitment caught most by surprise. No recruiting services had ranked him — Rivals didn't even have his profile. Which makes you wonder: What did he do at that camp?
"I just went out there and performed," he said. "Everything threw my way, I caught it. I was precise on my routes."
The Crabbers hoped to see Brown on the receiving end of passes from Jeremy Eubank, a transfer from Varina High. But late last month, Eubank was a passenger in a truck that overturned. His hand scraped the pavement, which led to skin and tendon damage.
The best-case scenario looks to have Eubank playing before the midpoint of the season. Still, he'll miss the entire preseason, which would have been valuable to a new quarterback and his best receiver.
Until then, at least, that best receiver will be the quarterback.
"Jamall, he can handle it," Crabbers coach Mike Smith said. "He's got game experience on both sides of the ball, so that's important."
A big advantage is that he won't be expected to carry the offense. Hampton has the Peninsula District's best running back combo in Kavon Bellamy and Dallas Cogdell, who combined for 1,779 yards (6.4 per carry) and 26 touchdowns in 2010.
"You can't ask for two better running backs than that," Brown said. "They both run, they both run hard, and they'll give you a good game each and every night."
Added Smith: "If I was a quarterback, having those guys back there would make me more comfortable."
Bellamy compared Brown's arm strength to that of David Watford, Hampton's starter the last three years who is now at U.Va. He said all the new guy needs is time to get accustomed.
"He says it's a little hard reading the coverages because he's so used to playing receiver," Bellamy said. "He just needs to get adjusted to it and work with the receivers."