By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.
Jabril Solomon wasn't
really interested in football until his family moved from the state
capital city of Columbia, SC, to their previous home in Hemingway, a
town of about 600 people in the eastern part of the state.
“I was really a basketball
fan,'' Solomon said. “I could have played basketball and been real good.
But my Dad and my brother convinced me to play football after we moved
back to Hemingway my freshman year.
“When I first went out I
was nervous because I didn't know if I could play. But I caught a
touchdown pass in the first practice, and just kept getting better from
Solomon was a quick study,
and when two starters went down that season, he became a starter at free
safety by the fourth game.
“We knew from the get go
that we had ourselves a good one,'' said Hemingway coach Ken Cribb.
Three seasons have passed
and Solomon has developed into a football player who's good enough to
draw scholarship offers from Clemson, Nebraska and N.C. State heading
into his senior season. But it was East Carolina that won the recruiting
war for the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder on July 8 when he made an verbal
commitment to the Pirates.
Solomon became sold on ECU
because it was the only school that recruited him only as a wide
receiver. Others were pursuing him as a defensive back or as an athlete.
“East Carolina told me
they'd put me at wide receiver, and that's where I really want to
play,'' Solomon said. “They led the nation in passing yards last year,
so they throw the ball. I'm going to ECU because I want to get the
Cribb certainly fed
Solomon the ball at Hemingway last season. Solomon made 54 catches for
more than 1,500 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in one of the top
performances by any receiver in South Carolina's Class 1-A ranks.
But Solomon's athletic
exploits as a junior didn't end on the football field. He was the state
runner-up in the 1-A class track and field meet in the 100- and
200-meter dashes and was part of a 4x100-meter relay team that won the
state crown. Solomon has been timed at 10.5 seconds over 100 meters,
which is a Hemingway school record.
“I am a fast, and I'm a
tall, big receiver,'' Solomon said when asked to evaluate his football
skills. “I think when there's a jump ball, I can go get it. And when my
team needs more yards for a first down, I can get it.''
But speed isn't Solomon's
only asset, according to Cribb. He also plays with a physical style that
actually resulted in a coaching first for Cribb last season.
“He is very physical,''
Cribb said. “He will hit your tail and block you. Even as a freshman he
got in there and was physical.
“He's the only player who
ever got me cursed out by an opposing parent. He blocked a kid during a
home game last year and it was pretty vicious. He knocked the kid
unconscious. The kid's mother came out of the stands and cursed me out.
So he's (Solomon) not scared of contact.''
East Carolina is getting a
receiver who can make big plays, Cribb said. He cited as an example a
play Solomon made last season.
“We were playing for our
conference championship and the other team had just scored to tie it
up,'' Cribb said. “On our very first play after that he ran a slant
route. He caught the ball, took a big hit from their safety, broke the
tackle and went 80 yards for a touchdown.''
Solomon and Cribb say the
commitment to the Pirates is firm.
“He told me he's not
taking any other visits,'' Cribb said. “He really liked East Carolina.
He had visited Clemson, N.C. State and all those others he'd heard from.
But he liked the atmosphere in Greenville and the coaching staff up
there. He just felt at home with (head) Coach Ruffin (McNeill) and with
(offensive coordinator) Coach (Lincoln) Riley. They were great to him
and made him feel comfortable.
"Plus, it just makes sense
for him because on offense they do what he likes — they throw the
Solomon's commitment is
the fourth for ECU's recruiting Class of 2012 and the second from a
Quataye Smyre, who previously
committed to the Pirates from Statesville, NC, is also expected to play