When you're a star football player in rural North Carolina it's not difficult to get overlooked and that just may be the case with T.J. Courman of E. Carteret High School in Beaufort, NC. However, if the first three games of the 2004 season are any indication, college scouts will certainly find their way to Courman's doorstep before the year is out.
At 5-10, 180 pounds and boasting an impressive bench press of 320 pounds, Courman lines up as a quarterback in a spread offense that features two slot receivers, two wide receivers and a running back. Although Courman's likely destination in college is as a slot receiver, the senior prospect has shown the ability to beat opposing defenses with his arm or legs. Last season he was named all-conference and offensive player of the year and there's been no drop off in 2004 as he's led the Mariners to a quick 3-0 start.
In his first game of the season against S. Lenoir, Courman passed for 139 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for another. In game two against rival W. Carteret he rushed for 191 yards and three scores. This past Friday night against Dixon High School, Courman rushed for 230 yards and two touchdowns while passing for 85 yards and two scores before halftime.
First year head coach Donnie Kieffer knows a thing or two about talent as he coached one of the state's top athletes last year in Trimane Goddard. Kieffer told Pack Pride that Courman has the potential to be just as good.
"T.J. has a lot of potential," said Kieffer. "(He has) good speed, strength and change of direction. He's a lot like Trimane Goddard- a very elusive runner who can take it to the house if he gets a step. Not having a lot of tape from last year has been a little bit of a detriment, but he has shined this year already. He will definitely be in someone's camp next fall."
So far Courman has yet to earn a scholarship offer but schools like NC State, UNC, Duke, Stanford, Marshall, Michigan State and Virginia have taken a keen interest in his abilities. However, should the Pack decide to offer, a former State standout could be a factor in where Courman ultimately ends up.
LB Levar Fisher is Courman's cousin and has played a huge role in his development as a football player.
"Actually, I was out in Arizona with my cousin Levar Fisher, training with him and the rest of the football team this past summer," said Courman. "Levar, he's been pushing State to me and he actually paid for me to go to NC State (football camp) two years in a row.
"When he was in high school down here and I was in elementary school, we used to run together up and down the roads. I couldn't lift as much as him obviously but we used to lift together and we did a lot of different things together and he just kind of took me under his wing."
While camping at State this past summer, Courman reports he ran a blistering 4.38-second 40-yard dash. He's hoping that effort, coupled with a solid senior season will lead to an eventual Wolfpack offer. Currently, the Pack heads up his wish list of potential college destinations.
"My main focus is, and maybe it's because of Levar, but NC State has been like one of my top choices," said Courman. "And then obviously [North] Carolina and Virginia Tech and South Carolina. The thing I'm mainly looking for is a school close to home."
Courman talked more in-depth about what sticks out in his mind in regards to the Wolfpack.
"State has a very sound football program and I think I would fit in well there because they like to pass a lot," he said. "And me, if I get a chance to be a slot receiver, that would open me up and exploit my abilities as far as being able to catch and run. I also really like Coach Amato. He's very adamant about the weight room and that's one of my favorite places to be. I just think they have a good program coming up this year and they're going to be good in the future and I just want to be a part of that."