Inside the Class of '05: Jamaal Charles

The second in a daily series of interviews and photo essays on members of the Longhorn Class of '05: Signee Jamaal Charles.

Jamaal Charles
Running Back
Port Arthur Memorial HS
NR: 14 SR: 12 Star Rating: ****

An Inside Texas conversation with Memorial head coach Dean Colbert on Jamaal Charles:

IT: What are Jamaal's strengths as a football player?
Colbert: "His tremendous speed is his main strength. He has the ability to make people miss. He has tremendous vision, and good power for his size. And he’s very competitive."

IT: What did the Texas coaches tell you they liked about him?
Colbert: "His speed. The threat of scoring every time he touches the ball. With the offensive line that they have year in and year out, he should have the opportunity to have long runs."

IT: Who were the main guys recruiting him for Texas?
Colbert: "It started with Michael Haywood, and Bruce Chambers really came in strong. Then of course Rucker came and got on top of him real well. So, it’s a combination of those three and coach Brown, who visited him several times."

IT: What are his current measurables?
Colbert: "6’0", 190lbs"

IT: How would you describe him as a runner? Does his running style remind you of anyone?
Colbert: "He’s a very smooth runner and very deceptive. He reminds me of a smaller Eric Dickerson. The way he looks like he’s not really running fast, but at the same time, he’s always outrunning people."

IT: What are the areas of his game that he needs to improve upon to be successful at the next level?
Colbert: "Receiving passes out of the backfield. He needs to improve on that as everybody does, but that will come."

IT: Is he a leader, and if so, how does he lead?
Colbert: "Absolutely. In fact, we were without him the first few ballgames this past year and we lost without him. As soon as he came back, we went on a six-game winning streak, so his presence is definitely felt. His presence alone is a big force for the team."

IT: Is there a defining moment for you that exemplifies his ability as a football player?
Colbert: "Against Spring Westfield, the team that made it to the state championship, he rushed for 403 yards and had three runs for over 70. He did it against a team that was very fast, and he just out ran them like it was just another day and another game. That’s what defined him as a back that will excel in the next level as well."

IT: Anything that we didn't cover that you think Longhorn fans would like to know about him?
Colbert: "He’s a tremendous person. He’s very humble and has a lot of pride in what he does. He is the first person to school every morning. He will get here before the sun rises. He is real focused and just wants to play football and run track and that’s what his mind intends to do."

Flashback to the Oct. 1, 2004 Inside Scoop

There is a joke amongst some high school football coaches in East Texas that all individual rushing yards this year should have an asterisk to reflect Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson's absence from the prep scene.

But after Longhorn commitment Jamaal Charles of Port Arthur Memorial High School ran for 371 yards and two touchdowns on 49 carries last Saturday in a 35-28 overtime loss to Midland Lee, it seems that asterisk might not be needed after all. Especially considering the game was played in almost 100-degree weather and that it was Charles' debut this season, because of shoulder surgery in June that caused him to miss Memorial's first two games of the season.

"It was unbelievable," Midland Lee coach Randy Quisenberry said. "He beat us both inside and outside running the ball. He and Cedric (Benson) have the same type of speed. But I think Jamaal is a more durable back and a thoroughbred type runner. He's not as compact as Cedric."

Perhaps there is no other running back in Texas who knows more about what it takes to compete with Peterson than Charles. In an interview with Inside Texas this week, Charles said he first met Peterson at a track meet last spring in which the two ran against each other in a 100-meter race.

"I beat him," Charles said. "But I had to run hard the whole way."

After the race, Charles said he and the Palestine standout talked briefly.

"He told me he played running back and that he was the top (football) recruit in the nation," Charles said. "I was like, Oh, for real. I didn't even know who he was."

But Charles does now and is eager to take the college football world by storm next season as a freshman in Austin.

"I'm going to make Texas fans forget about Adrian Peterson," Charles said. Thayer Evans


Note from Clendon: Charles' quote above, from an interview with Inside Texas magazine, ranks up there as one of my favorite quotes from a Longhorn prospect in this class. Obviously, living up to the quote will be an awfully tall order given Peterson's success as a true freshman last season for the Sooners, but you have to like Charles' confidence in himself and the goals he's already set ("1,500 yards or 2,000 yards every year, be the best back in college football and win the Heisman Trophy"). Based on my conversations with him in San Antonio during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl practice week and the comments above from his high school coach, he's not a kid that believes he'll succeed based on previous press clippings. He understands that he'll have to earn his playing time, and he seems prepared to put in the effort to do so. (He already has the talent part of the equation.) And given the antics and mind games played by some other prospects this year, I also really liked this comment from Charles: "I'm ready to go right now. Getting a scholarship from Texas, that's an honor right there." Indeed. Welcome to the Forty Acres, Jamaal.

*U.S. Army photos by Will Gallagher/Inside Texas; all others Mike Tobias/Port Arthur News*


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