COVINGTON, Ga. — For Jamari Brown’s recruiting process, it’s back to the drawing board once again.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound 3-star defensive back prospect from Eastside re-opened his recruitment Friday morning when he let Florida A&M coaches know he would be decommitting from the school he gave a verbal to back in August.
After having some time to think things over — and with some new and resurfacing options at his disposal — the 2018 Region 4-AAAA defensive player of the year, and AJC All-State selection says he’s gearing toward making a National Signing Day decision on Wednesday February 6.
“Right now, it’s just been a long process, but I’m just ready to open things back up and consider my options and let myself be open to other options for the last few days before signing day,” Brown said. “I appreciate the Florida A&M organization, and especially coach Gilstrap for the opportunity they gave me to be a Rattler. When I went down there for my visit, it was fun, and I enjoyed it. But I believe it’s just not me for the next three or four years.”
Brown has over a dozen offers, mostly from mid-major or FCS Division I schools such as Navy, Ball State and Chattanooga. But recently he’s heard from Tennessee, and he said Mercer — which has been on Brown’s trail from the beginning — has turned up the intensity in their pursuit of the skilled corner.
Brown said he’s got plans on making official visits to both Tennessee and Mercer in the last two weeks before signing day.
“I’m not gonna lie, it’s real exciting to have these two visits, since up until now, Florida A&M was the only official visit I went on,” Brown said. “With Tennessee, Knoxville seems like just a great town, and I believe (head) coach (Jeremy) and coach (Danny) Stiff would take care of me. With the Mercer situation, coach (La’Donte) Harris has been trying to recruit me through the whole process. They’ve always showed that they wanted me. Coach says I’m the No. 1 player on their board."
Brown was the only player to make the 2018 All-Covington News first team squad on both sides of the ball, both as a defensive back and receiver. That’s because he’s shown the kind of ability on the field that makes it understandable why he’s one of the county’s most sought after prospects.
In 2018, Brown registered 81 total tackles with 46 solo stops and nine tackles for losses to go along with an interception, two forced fumbles, three recoveries and four pass breakups.
On the other side of the ball, Brown caught 29 passes for 483 yards and seven receiving touchdowns.
Brown initially committed to South Florida, at the time calling it his “dream school.” But he cited lapses of communication between himself and the USF staff as reasons why he felt it necessary to back away from that verbal.
With a Power Five SEC school now in the picture, Brown said it’s exciting to him because it shows that coaches believe his talent can translate to pretty much any size school in the country, and Brown feels his game and football mentality makes him well suited to compete right away, regardless of how big or small the program is.
“It’s really very important for me to be able to step on the field right now and make an immediate impact wherever I land,” brown said. “But also, I don’t mind going in and being a guy that has to compete. Going in with three or four other guys in front of me, and me having to work. I feel like I’ve got the athletic ability, the football IQ and just that dog inside of me to be successful wherever I go and whoever I’m up against.”
Brown says he’ll be looking for two very specific things on his trips to Mercer and Tennessee, as well as any other opportunities that may come his way.
“I want where I go to be a great atmosphere, and I think that’s the main thing A&M lacked to me,” Brown said. “I want the school I’m at to be a great city or town to be in. No issues, good housing, just a great atmosphere where people love the game. Solid academics. Just stuff like that.”
Brown said he understands that some people may look at the times he’s changed his mind about his school choice as him being indecisive or not being a person of his word. But he also said that he realizes that he’s the only one who will have to live with his choice day in and day out, so he wants to make sure it’s right for him.
“That’s extremely important to me, because I know I’ll be leaving my family for college,” he said. “I have to make sure it’s right for me. It has to be the perfect fit. It has to feel like home. Wherever I land, I have to feel the love from the players and for the coaches. It’s got to be a second home for me for the next four years, or else I know I won’t perform my best there.”
Brown acknowledges that the recruiting process has been difficult, and a bit of a grind. And while some student-athletes feel comfortable basking in the attention it brings, Brown said he’s looking forward to it all coming to an end.
“I’m not gonna lie to you, these past couple of months have really been stressful,” he said. “I tell my mom that every day. I’m really ready to take my visits, take a look at other options, make my decision, sign those papers and be done with it.”
Brown said that when it’s all said and done, he hopes to be able other people navigate through the choppy waters of college football recruiting.
“I really want people to know to be involved with their process early and start the process early,” Brown said. “Also get help from people who know how to do recruiting. Recruitment is just as serious as game preparation, film watching and all the other football stuff.”
He also encourages student-athletes getting ready to start this process to not allow themselves to be so tunnel vision focused that they miss some great opportunities along the way.
“At first, all I wanted was to go back to Florida, my home state,” he said. “But my family and coaches helped me to see the big picture and realize that what was most important was not where I was from but where I am going.”
He also emphasized his appreciation for the school and coaching staff he’s called home for the last three years since he moved from Florida.
“I’m proud of the work I put in at Eastside and appreciate everything that’s been done for me there by coach Hoff and his staff and everything I experienced as an Eagle,” he said. “I was glad to know others that I didn’t play for were also willing to help me as much as they did and that they were proud of what I’ve done for these last three years here.”
Beyond football, Brown said his family — namely his mother — has also been a huge influence in terms of his post-football career choice. With a 3.26 GPA and solid standardized test scores, Brown said wherever he lands, he’s thinking about a major in criminal law.
“I’ve always been around it,” he said. “My mom was a police officer, a correctional officer and now is a deputy sheriff at the Fulton County jail. I held with business as my major for a long time, but now since I’ve been in forensics, it’s just me interested. Since I began forensics, since the beginning of the year, I’ve probably watched the show, Forensic Files every night before I go to sleep. Probably over 100 episodes. It’s really interesting to me.”
As for those interested in knowing Brown’s final answer as it relates to school choice, don’t expect any knee-jerk decisions, even with two visits coming up.
“Right now, I’m leaning toward making a signing day decision,” he said. “I’m going to overlook everything with my family, go to these visits and evaluate everything and we’ll see how it goes from there.”