Look out for redshirt freshman OL, cancer survivor Brodarious Hamm in Auburn football spring practice
SEC Country wants to tackle the best questions from Auburn football and Auburn basketball fans. Look for our Auburn Question of the Day most weekdays. Go here to see all of our previous answers.
How is Brodarious Hamm doing? Does he have a chance to play this year?
– Scott A., Facebook
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn football’s interior offensive line could go a lot of different directions in the 2018 season.
The Tigers return two junior guards with starting experience in Mike Horton and Marquel Harrell. The center position will be up for grabs with talented but inexperienced competitors in Nick Brahms and Kaleb Kim, but that could change if Auburn brings in a graduate transfer on the offensive line.
Brodarious Hamm is a name flying under the radar right now. Like Brahms, Calvin Ashley and Austin Troxell, Hamm redshirted in 2017 on a senior-laden offensive line.
Hamm’s story is different from the others, though. He signed with Auburn in the Class of 2016. One month after signing with the Tigers, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hamm arrived at Auburn and enrolled in classes, but he took that first year away from football to fight the disease.
Hamm was ruled cancer-free last January and participated in spring practices. He took a redshirt year under former offensive line coach Herb Hand, who saw Hamm’s still-impressive physical gifts and his need for development.
“He’s a massive person,” Hand said last year. “He is huge. He’s got some pop. Like most freshmen coming in, he’s got a lot of development to do. Particularly on the offensive line position, the guys we’re recruiting, they’ve had genetic advantages their whole life for being an offensive lineman. They’re usually bigger and stronger than most of their opponents. They’re able to physically dominate somebody just with what their mom and dad gave them.
“But when you start lessening the genetic advantages a guy has, technique and fundamentals really become paramount. You know, he’s got a lot to learn in that regard.”
— Auburn Football (@AuburnFootball) February 3, 2016
Hamm got a full year of that much-needed work under Hand. Now he’ll enter his redshirt freshman season under J.B. Grimes, who has a reputation for developing raw talent into polished SEC offensive linemen.
Before Hand’s departure and Grimes’ arrival, Hamm stood out to coach Gus Malzahn in Peach Bowl practices on campus.
“Brodarious Hamm also has had a very good week or so of practice since we’ve been back,” Malzahn said in December. “Most of those offensive linemen, and that’s the best thing: those guys that redshirted on the offensive line, this is really their first time that they’re actually competing for playing time and you’ve seen the urgency in that group really rise. That’s usually what happens and that’s to be expected.”
Malzahn said he thought both Hamm and defensive tackle Tashawn Manning — who has a similar history of overcoming cancer — could contribute for the Tigers in 2018.
“I definitely think they can,” Malzahn said. “They went through very, very tough situations and fought through situations to get where they’re at. It’s been really neat for me to see those guys grow and get more confidence and get their strength and everything that goes with it. Got a lot of respect for both those guys.”
Hamm might not push for a starting job in 2018 if Horton and Harrell both stay at guard. But if Horton gets a solid look at center, Hamm will definitely challenge for a job on the line.
Auburn coaches and teammates are impressed by his development. As a young player, Hamm’s technique isn’t the cleanest at this point. But he moves well for his size and reminds some of how Horton looked as a reserve before his breakout season in 2017.
“You can certainly see his pop and his ability to move his feet and those things you want to see,” Hand said last year. “He’s just got to keep developing his confidence and his attention to detail, the little things.”
Under a position coach who excels at those “little things,” Hamm could earn his way into playing time with a strong spring camp. Keep an eye on him in March.