For Christian Brothers cornerback Jaxon Hammond, this season will be one last run after years of hard work.
Hammond and his close team friends have all played football together since sixth grade.
“I really want to enjoy every moment of this last season with them,” Hammond said. “It’s sad in some ways, but at the same time I know I made the most of it. It will be really different not playing with the same people next year.
Hammond is No. 7 on The Commercial Appeal’s Dandy Dozen, a collection of the Memphis-area’s top college football prospects in the Class of 2023, as selected by the newspaper. Hammond, a 5-foot-11, 160-pound senior, is the No. 39 prospect in the state, according to the 247Sports Composite. He enlisted in the army.
Hammond began to catch the attention of coaches when he was 9 years old.
The three-star cornerback said he still had confidence in himself, but as his relationship with Alabama State defensive backs coach James Williams grew, so did his confidence. .
Hammond enlisted in the army on June 26 after visiting the school four days prior. He also had a home visit from assistant Cortney Braswell, who has coached high schools in Tennessee.
Take football seriously
Hammond’s first introduction to Williams came at age 9 while racing on the track for the Memphis Mustangs. Williams’ son was also a member of the same track team.
Williams recalled Hammond coming to sit next to him after he finished every race, whether he won or lost. Williams jokingly explained that Hammond would sit by his side longer if his run resulted in a loss.
One day, after a track meet, Williams told Hammond’s father that his son would make a great football player. At the time, Hammond loved football, but taking it seriously was not one of his top priorities.
Williams invited Hammond to a practice at the Pro Process Academy where he was coaching at the time. Pro Process Academy is a 7v7 soccer mentoring and physical training program.
Hammond accepted Williams’ offer and showed up for practice.
“I worked with the older guys, and they got me through that,” Hammond said. “We went head-to-head and I didn’t win a single rep. It was quite difficult.
Although Hammond’s experience on the face of it wasn’t ideal, it exposed the moment Williams knew Division I football was in Hammond’s future.
Memphis defensive back Greg Rubin was also in practice and helped solidify Williams’ decision to add Hammond to the team.
“Jaxon was competing so hard, and I had to make the decision to keep Jaxon or a kid older than him,” Williams said.
Williams recalled Rubin looking at him and saying, “Coach, you gotta keep Jaxon on because you didn’t tell me this program is built on hard work, fearlessness and a desire to to be tall.”
Once Hammond secured a spot, Williams recalls Hammond calling him almost every Sunday to meet him at a pitch for some extra work.
“A lot of people think players have to be almost like a rose that’s grown out of concrete to be great,” Williams said. “I don’t necessarily believe it. Jaxon is a privileged child, but what makes him special is the fact that he doesn’t count on it. He acts like he has nothing and every day is his last chance to play football.
Christian Brothers coach Thomas McDaniel and Williams both explained that Hammond shows a high level of maturity that he will need to rely on to succeed in the military.
“Jaxon has a lot of positive energies,” McDaniel said. “He just has a really likeable personality. He’s one of those guys that everyone naturally gravitates towards. Jaxon never really seems to have a bad day.”
Williams added: “No matter what life throws at Jaxon, I know he’ll be fine.”
Alexis Davis is a sports reporting intern for the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Contact her at [email protected]