Grinning Attitude: Jamal Freeman gives his coaches something to smile about
By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor
Nov. 14, 2007 - Late in the fourth quarter of the Wildcats' emotional win over Texas High two weeks ago, fiery defensive coordinator Steve Hale felt someone patting him on the rear. He whipped around and saw Jamal Freeman and Rodney Evans grinning back at him.
Talk about a tension breaker.
"That's a true story," Freeman said, laughing. "Coach Hale turned around and we were just smiling at him. I'd rather play when I'm happy because it's fun. I like to have fun out there."
Freeman usually has a grin on his face. So much so that defensive line coach Rodney Flowers has to tell him to stop smiling before he takes the field.
"That's the way Jamal is," Flowers said of the 5-10, 240-pound defensive lineman. "He always has a good attitude."
Freeman has certainly given Flowers and Hale something to smile about this year. He has gotten in on 60 tackles, four of them for losses, has caused two fumbles and batted down one pass.
One of the strongest members of the team, Freeman has helped anchor the defensive line. He bench presses over 300 pounds and has the highest incline press on the team (285 pounds).
In addition to his physical ability, Freeman is used by Flowers as a coach on the field.
"He's the smartest D-lineman I have," Flowers said. "He can make all the calls up front. If I need help getting someone lined up, or someone's not sure about the scheme, Jamal's the guy I want in there. If you have a quarterback of the D-line, that's Jamal."
Last season, Freeman recorded 26 tackles in a part-time role after missing the first several days of two-a-day practices. He also battled through some nagging injuries in 2006.
But this season, he started strong and has remained healthy. His younger brother, J.B. Beachum, started at defensive tackle on the JV squad, and has been able to learn from his older sibling.
"I don't know how they couldn't have a great relationship because they're just alike," Flowers said. "I know Jamal has to work and take care of his business outside of school, so he's had to work for what he has achieved."
The son of Michelle and Sammy Thomas, Freeman has two younger sisters, Samantha and Jazmine Thomas. He will likely go to college and major in mechanical engineering.
That's a switch from his demeanor on the football field.
"Football's fun, it's aggressive," Freeman said. "I have no idea why, I just like it."