May 5, 2011

Kimbrow finds motivation from early setback

MEMPHIS --- Jamborees are high school football window dressing; exhibitions forgotten almost before they're even conducted.

Brian Kimbrow still finds motivation today from his first-ever high school football jamboree, when a fumble in that exhibition forced him to the bench. For the rest of the season.

"I was supposed to start at running back, but my ninth-grade year I fumbled in the jamboree and I didn't see the field no more," said the fleet-footed Memphis East tailback. "But that made me humble.

"It was hard on me; hard on me. But it was a learning experience and made me better because coach is zero tolerance about fumbling the ball. I know anywhere else I go they would say the same thing."

Still, Kimbrow's coach, former Miami Hurricane and NFL player Marcus Wimberly, made sure Kimbrow didn't forget the fumble.

"Coach made sure that I carried a football around every day. During the summer, during school. Everything," Kimbrow said. "He just made sure I had a ball in my hand all during practices. Me and coach worked on it on Saturdays and Sundays on my handoffs and all that type of stuff."

Wimberly said he sees a certain determination in both Kimbrow and new teammate Will Redmond, a blossoming wide receiver prospect who just transferred to East from nearby Manassas High School.

"Both are exceptional athletes. You know they're going to make plays, but on top of that they are smart football players. They're well-schooled in the game and that's impressive at times," said Wimberly, who spent some time with the Atlanta Falcons. "They're well-grounded and understand what's going on and what they need to do and how people look up to them. Their younger teammates and so on and so forth. They're ambassadors to the city of Memphis as far as football goes."

The work has certainly paid off for Kimbrow, who now boasts 30 scholarship offers from programs all across the country and includes the likes of Alabama, Miami, Stanford and Tennessee.

"It's exciting. I mean, I'm just going step-by-step with the recruiting process," said Kimbrow, a 2012 U.S. Army All-American selection. "Coach told me to just be humble about the situation, stay on track and focus on the team. Make my decision on college on what I'm going to do after the season and just focus on the team during the season so that it doesn't throw me off-track.

"I just basically want to help my team win. Have a winning season and also help my teammates get in school."

From those schools, Kimbrow said he hears the most from Tennessee, and he's already made a couple of visits to check out the UT campus.

"I hear the most from Tennessee," Kimbrow said. "Coach (Charlie) Baggett is recruiting me. He's a real cool guy. Laid-back but cool."

A former high school swimmer who now just runs track in addition to his work on the football field, Kimbrow said he and Redmond are intent on being good examples for other kids in Memphis. They're also focused on joining each other at the college level.

"We look at it as a good thing because in Memphis, we don't get a lot of recognition for things. And we are just trying to take it and have them look at it in a good way," he said. "Me and Will planning on going to the same school is like a 99.9 percent chance that that's going to happen. We just try our best to stay on track and don't let things get to us."

To help with that, Kimbrow said he leans on his faith.

"I read my Bible every night," he said. "I'm very close to God."

While Kimbrow has a number of seven-on-seven camps and unofficial visits lined up for the summer, the MVP of this year's U.S. Army All-American junior combine is eagerly awaiting one rivalry game this season. Kimbrow and fellow Memphis tailback Jovon Robinson have a Week 3 showdown. The two already have begun to talk about the matchup during their seven-on-seven play together.

"It's a good challenge," said Kimbrow, flashing a broad smile, "but I already know who's going to come out on top."

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