To some football isn’t just a sport, but a way of life. This is especially the case in the southern region of the United States where football is treated like a religion and many young men pick up the sport at a young age in the hopes of making it to the NFL someday. Though it varies state to state, the sentiment remains the same, and that sentiment is that football is something they eat, breath and sleep. This was partially the case for Jamoi Hodge, sophomore linebacker for TCU who grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina who made a name for himself this past season when he appeared in 12 games and garnered a total of 60 tackles, 36 of which were solo tackles. We recently got to sit down with Jamoi and discuss his experiences in life playing football, his career at TCU thus far and some of his other interests outside of football that prove how much of a well rounded young man he truly is.
Jamoi began his football career at a young age, following in the footsteps of family members who had also fallen in love with the sport. “A lot of my family members played sports and played football.. My uncle was in the NFL, he played at Carolina… So I just had a lot of family members that was around football.” Jamoi’s uncle played safety in the NFL, seemingly influencing Jamoi’s decision to play in the backfield in his own football career. But he also credits some of his own experiences in helping him decide how he wanted to approach the sport, ultimately deciding to pick up the position of linebacker: “At first I played flag, and, you know, you can’t tackle in flag… But as soon as we put on pads and did a little hitting drill and I hit somebody hard, ever since then…”. Jamoi was a natural at his position, but the hard work didn’t stop there.
Despite his obvious talent, Jamoi wasn’t one of the nation’s top prospects coming out of high school. In fact, he took his talents to a Junior College at first to test the waters and show the world of collegiate football what he is made of. “Out of high school, I wasn't even ranked at all… Coming out of JuCo, that's when I was rated three stars.” Jamoi played with a chip on his shoulder after being overlooked despite his obvious athletic skills, and he made that clear when I asked him if not being ranked out of high school influenced his mindset: “I was always hungry… it would always motivate me when I saw everybody else getting offers and going to these nice big schools when I knew I was having a better, more productive season than them… that's just what made me keep grinding.” His grinding would ultimately lead him to the next chapter of his collegiate football career when he elected to join the TCU football program.
Jamoi garnered interest from a number of high-profile D1 programs after his JuCo stint, with programs such as Louisville and Arizona showing interest in the budding prospect. He originally committed to Nebraska before decommitting after realizing it just wasn’t the fit for him, and was ultimately left with two options. “I picked between TCU and Louisville… Louisville is in the ACC and wasn’t too far from home… TCU is in Texas and I have a family member down in Dallas so I had family down there.” Ultimately, he elected to join the TCU Horned Frogs following his time at Independence Community College. Now it was time for Jamoi to make the jump to the big leagues, and when asked about the transition from high school to college football he noted that “staying healthy” and “the fanbase” were the greatest differences. “The energy is way different, you can tell it's big time football.” He definitely felt that energy when he finally got the chance to suit up for TCU’s football program, and he lavished every second of it: “I always wanted to play between 60,000 and 100,000 fans… it felt good actually making my dreams come true and helping show the younger people in my city you can always make it.” When I asked Jamoi what advice he would give to up-and-coming young football recruits he was confident in saying “Do what's best for you, don't let anybody decide your life.” He reflects upon his family’s initial concerns with his decision to attend Independence Community College, adding “My Mom didn’t want me to go but I knew what was best for me and I knew what I wanted to do and I went and it actually came out pretty good… trust yourself and never give up. I had no offers coming out of high school and I left JuCo with 20 D1 offers.”
I asked Jamoi his opinions regarding the new NIL rules the NCAA implemented last year and whether he had pursued any NIL opportunities himself, and he was optimistic about the situation athletes are now being presented with. “I actually think it's good just because a lot of schools are benefitting from our name and likeness… people come to the games for us, and the coaches or schools get the money and we don’t get any of it, so I like that they added this.” Jamoi has pursued NIL endorsement deals with a number of companies that include a visor company, clothing companies and even a company working with solar panels. He is even ahead in his classes, taking summer classes to stay ahead of the curve because he “[wants to] make sure I leave with my degree.” Jamoi also expressed his interest in music to us, another hobby he has picked up outside of football that only further contributes to how well rounded of a young man he is. “I’ve been in music all my life, since elementary school… I was in community drumlines growing up, I was in band since elementary school… I played the saxophone, the baritone, the trombone and the trumpet… oh and the tuba too.” Nowadays he has started producing music, with a second Instagram account dedicated to his passion of music and hopes of becoming a producer as well as an NFL star.
The sky's the limit for Jamoi Hodge. He has established himself as an elite Division 1 football prospect with a real chance of making it to the NFL, and he could still pursue a career in music as well as his passion for it is obvious. Speaking with Jamoi, you truly get the sense that he is a well rounded young man eager to build a legacy for himself and is ready to do so in a multitude of ways. We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to speak with Jamoi and will be waiting for the day one lucky NFL team decides to take a chance on the budding star.
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