Then there is the fanfare which comes with the title. That's all well and good for Jamarcus McFarland, but he looks at the attention he's getting as a way to make an impact on others he holds closest. "It's just one of those things where kids are going to look up to you, and I want to make sure that I am sending the right message," Jamarcus said. "I don't think anyone thinks about being a role model, but if you are, you have to take the responsibility."
That responsibility came perhaps sooner than McFarland ever thought it might, if he were to even think it would at all. But coming off a junior campaign where he was named District 15-5A Defensive Player of the Year, totaling 46 tackles, including 12 for losses, the attention started to come in bunches.
It's McFarland's style of play, he believes that has gotten him the attention thus far. But he'll admit that his 6-3, 290 pound frame and over 400 lbs. bench press doesn't hurt. "Oh yeah, my strength is big for me. I think my speed off the ball is just as important, but my strength is good, because I'm usually not facing one guy."
If an opponent is about to play Lufkin, there are a lot of things you have to consider when facing a perennially good team, the Panthers going 9-2 this last season, but 11-1 the season before that. However, reality is what it is and coaches know that if you are going to control a game, you need to control the line. And according to McFarland, they have tried everything to just get a handle on him.
"The double team is something I always get, sometimes three," he said. "But they will get down in this crab walk, to try and get underneath me. They cut block me and do just about anything you can imagine, so I think I have seen it all."
While Jamarcus has seen just about everything you can imagine on the field, it's those things off the field he's trying to concentrate on right now. When you are the number one ranked player at your position, schools are interested in you, and with this Texas prep-star, he's trying to make sure to give them all some in return.
To that end, he's visited Texas A&M and Texas for junior days, and Jamarcus says he plans on unofficially visiting Oklahoma this up-coming weekend. Of the remaining teams who have offered him, including Florida, Nebraska, Notre Dame and LSU, just to name a few, he hasn't made any plans for visits thus far. "I haven't really gotten into thinking about trips, camps or anything like that. I'm just kind of seeing how things go," McFarland said. "I have that trip to Oklahoma, but nothing else planned after that."
Jamarcus said that he knows something about Nebraska, but unfortunately for Husker fans, it isn't necessarily about the team. "I know it gets cold up there. That's about all I know about Nebraska right now," he said.
It's not uncommon for players from more southern regions of the country to talk, about northern states and comment on the difference in the weather. Some simply don't want to play in weather they weren't used to playing in as a kid. However, McFarland's comment on Nebraska's seasonal climate wasn't so much an indictment as an observation. The fact is, Jamarcus has a rather pragmatic view of conditions less than idea. "I don't mind the cold, because you can keep your wind better. It's hard to keep it when it's really humid outside," he said.
Jamarcus sees the future and to a certain degree, he thinks he has a good idea of what's coming. September 1st will roll around, and all those letters and visits to the school from coaches, will turn into phone call after phone call. It's the craziness that he's heard about and he finds himself as one of the most watched players from one coast to the other.
That's somewhat intimidating, even to this man-child. "It's a thrill to be in this position, but you know it's going to be tough. It's going to be hard sorting everything out with all of these teams looking at me," he said. "I'm not narrowing my list down at all right now, because I haven't really even begun to look at all the programs who are looking at me.
"It wouldn't be fair to myself if I cut anyone out of this right now. I need to take it all in, so I know that when I do make my decision, it will be the best one for me."