HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
At Lamar, defensive backs take pride in long legacy of success at position
At Lamar, “DB High” is in the middle of its golden age, and players take pride in it.
ATuesday morning practice is minutes old, and Lamar’s defensive backs are already on the field doing what they do best. little boasting turns into action. Someone said he was faster than everyone. That’s all it took.
Seniors Quantis Galloway, Zion Burrell and a few other players immediately meet at the other end of the field. They get on the line and point to a coach, hoping to get an objective official.
“All of them said they were faster than me, which I am the fastest on the team,” cornerback Galloway said. “They thought they were faster than me.”
The impromptu foot race is broken up by coaches before it even starts, but it won’t be long before the competitive spirit finds this group of defensive backs again.
After all, this is the essence of “DB High,” which is in the middle of its golden age.
Seniors Anthony Cook and D’Shawn Jamison are two of the most coveted recruits in the country. Recruiting analysts call Cook the embodiment of an elite cover corner. Jamison brings his nickname “Shark” to life at safety and nickelback in various defensive packages.
The current players rattle off the names before them with reverence for each one.
Before Holton Hill was at Texas, he led the state with 11 interceptions as a senior in 2014.
They talk about John Bonney, who is at Texas and had four district championships, 45 wins and six interceptions to his name.
They watched Trevon Lewis’s 2016 season that culminated in a Touchdown Club of Houston Defensive Player of the Year honor and Baylor scholarship.
Logan Latin and Jordan Stevens’s leadership in the secondary is remembered fondly. Latin nabbed four picks and returned one for a score as a senior in 2015.
Trey Duncan — now at Tennessee State — returned three interceptions for touchdowns in 2014.
There is a pride in playing defensive back at Lamar that could be mistaken for cockiness. Lamar defensive backs coach Theadis Reagins had red shirts made with the phrase “DB High” across the front. He wants the players to embrace the tradition.
“It was known,” Cook said. “It was known as soon as we stepped in practice that DBs, they go to college here.”
The impromptu race that never was tells more about playing the position at this school than any game film could. Burrell said if the defensive backs take it light on each other, they’ll take it light on game day.
Many of Lamar’s best athletes are introduced to playing defense when they first arrive, and Reagins believes it helps the position thrive.
Then there’s the talking. Reagins points to one-on-
one drills with the receivers in practice. His players love going against Texas pledge Al’vonte Woodard. They hate to lose. They want bragging rights against the receivers. They may want bragging rights against each other even more.
It translates to the game and has for years at Lamar.
“When it comes to practice, those guys talk before practice and talk after practice,” Reagins said. “A lot of times after practice, they can’t wait to get back out there the next day if they lose.”
Seeking best competition
When told about the impromptu after-practice race, Rod Babers laughed.
It reminded him of the days he and Gerome Sapp roamed the Lamar secondary in the late 1990s.
In the early days of 7-on7 football, Babers and Sapp would drive to North Shore just to test themselves against receivers. They wanted the best.
Coaches might warn players of paying attention to press clippings these days. Not Babers and Sapp. They looked at everything from Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine to the local newspaper. They wanted to know who the best receiver was, hoping they’d run across him.
They didn’t like seeing even one name above theirs in player rankings, either.
“‘Oh there’s a DB they think is better than me?’” Babers would say.
They wanted the attention, too. They wanted their football reputation to follow them to track meets, and then they wanted to dust everyone in the 200-meter race.
They wanted to beat each other — badly. Babers would take it personally when Sapp had a faster time than he, and he’d let him know he didn’t like it.
This attitude shaped Lamar’s legacy at defensive back, and it translated to game day then like it does today. Babers rode that attitude to Texas, while Sapp went to Notre Dame. Both ended up in the NFL.
“I think guys have an alter ego when they go out there, man. I did,” Babers said. “I’m sure Anthony Cook has one, too. I was Black Caesar, man. I would change into a different person.”
Reagins said that style may clash with longtime head coach Tom Nolen’s old-school approach, which is more about substance than swagger. But the head coach is accepting, and everyone likes the results.
Babers said it was the same way with Nolen during his heyday.
Passing the torch
Cook and Jamison speak about the underclassmen continuing the tradition. The constant passing of the torch is a key component for football factories.
Junior Alex Hogan will be the veteran next year. Sophomore Joseph Wilson and freshman Jalen Emery will hold that responsibility one day.
Emery is well aware of what it takes to stick at defensive back at Lamar and notes that any football player there should be excited to be in the secondary. Wilson agrees.
“Nothing is given here,” Wilson said. “You have to earn everything. You take it serious and learn from the upperclassmen.”
Alex Hogan, from left, D’Shawn Jamison, Quantis Galloway, Zion Burrell and Anthony Cook are the current stars of Lamar’s “DB High,” the nickname given to the school known for
producing quality defensive backs. “It was known as soon as we stepped in practice that DBBs, they go to college here,” Cook says.