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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Thursday, July 14, 2011

By Sammy Batten

Solomon sold on chance to keep catching passes

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 there.''

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 ball.''

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 ball.''

Solomon's commitment is the fourth for ECU's recruiting Class of 2012 and the second from a potential receiver. Quataye Smyre, who previously committed to the Pirates from Statesville, NC, is also expected to play receiver.

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07/14/2011 03:01:18 AM


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