Brodarious Hamm still takes the football field at Spalding High School in Griffin, Ga., with a brace hugging his left knee.
He’ll tell you he’s the more comfortable now than he’s been in two years. (Spoiler: that’s concerning news for college defensive lineman.)
At 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, the Auburn commit is just scratching the surface. He’s only played offensive tackle for the better part of two seasons, though he never wanted to be an offensive lineman in the first place. He preferred reading, reacting and dishing out hits.
Lo and behold, it’s where Hamm ultimately ended up. But his transition was met with early adversity.
In the spring of 2013, the Jaguars had just resumed practice when coach Nick Davis noticed a void along the offensive line. Enter Hamm, who flashed on both varsity and junior varsity the year prior on both lines. Davis knew his then-freshman was going to be a long-term commodity at offensive tackle.
“His ceiling and growth potential were very high,” Davis said.
So he began participating more frequently in offensive line drills and learning the nuances of the position. But on the third day of spring practice, his knee gave in.
“I was loafing,” Hamm said of the first drill. “I let somebody run me over.”
On the second run through, he released toward a linebacker holding a practice dummy and planted his left foot into the ground. Hamm lost his footing and tore his ACL. He was sidelined for the upcoming season.
Surgery and hours of rehabbing followed. He stopped squatting heavy weight, opting to focus on the bench press and power clean — in both movements he can lift well over 300 pounds.
“When I got hurt, I was kind of scared to use my knee again,” Hamm said. “At first, I wasn’t really sure if I was going to be able to play again.”
Davis said he dove into film study and learned the position inside and out before he returned roughly 11 months after surgery. It all culminated in a successful junior year, his first ever as a full-time offensive lineman.
Colleges began to take notice. His first offer came from Tennessee last February, just around the time he was nearing 100 percent.
“He’s recovered well from the knee injury and he’s been a dominant force for us since then,” Davis said.
“Having a year-and-a-half of weight training and getting stronger, as well as getting in top shape as you’re coming off of an injury, made him more comfortable.”
Hamm is now rated as the No. 25 player in the state of Georgia despite not having as much experience as his peers. He’s reported offers from UGA, LSU and seven other programs, though he committed to Auburn in June.
“Run-blocking is his forte,being physical in a gap scheme,” Davis said. “He does a good job of reach blocking as well. He’s really improved in his pass protection. And the second thing is his blocking on the second level.”
And Davis believes his best days are still ahead.
“One, he’s stronger,” Davis said. “Two, he’s in better shape now than he was last year and just the experience he has at the position, he has much more room for growth.”