SEATTLE – The Page 1 rule of football practice that prohibits a player from unnecessarily flattening his teammate is accentuated for lowly high school sophomores honing in on the star senior.
And so it was that current University of Washington linebacker Jamaal Kearse, during one of his early practices with the Lakes High School football team, found himself on the receiving end of a finger-wagging lecture.
Kearse had just taken the wood to one of the Lancers’ best players, knocking him out of action for a few snaps, and his reward was a thunderous dressing-down.
Not from the coaches. Not from the teammate. But from his mom.
That’s what happens when you knock your older brother out of action for a few minutes.
“He ran a screen, and I knew he was running the screen,” Jamaal Kearse said last week, reliving the moment when he laid out older brother Jermaine Kearse without any hint of regret. “I knew what the play was, so as soon as he went up for the ball, I kind of hit him – and he hit the ground hard.”
Mama Kearse hit Jamaal with the tongue-lashing of his life.
Jermaine, who is a senior receiver for the Huskies, holds no ill will but shakes his head at the significance of the hit.
“He thinks he made the big play, but he knew what the play was the whole time,” the older Kearse said last week. “He didn’t do anything but just go downhill to hit me. He felt good about it, so I’ll let him have his shine.”
In recent weeks, both Kearse brothers have been shining for the Huskies. While Jermaine continues to lead UW in receptions (18) and touchdown catches (five), his younger brother has recently become a starting linebacker and key playmaker on the Huskies’ special teams units.
Their unique gridiron bond added a link on Oct. 1, when both Jamaal (on a fumble recovery return on the opening kickoff) and Jermaine (on a 23-yard reception in the third quarter) scored touchdowns in the same game. It’s the first time in recent memory, but probably not the first time, that a pair of UW siblings has scored in a single game.
“It was awesome,” Jermaine said of the rare feat.
Said Jamaal: “That was dope. Everybody was like: ‘We don’t remember the last time two brothers scored in the same game like that.’ Yeah, it was awesome.”
The feat marked a signature moment in the evolving relationship between brothers who have grown to appreciate each other both on and off the field.
“He watches over me,” Jamaal said last week. “If my grades start slipping, he’s going to be the first to be on me. … I respect him as an older brother. He looks after me.”
Since Jamaal arrived at UW last fall, big brother has been watching over him – not in an Orwellian way but in a literal one. Jermaine lives in the apartment above his younger brother, and he keeps a close eye on Jamaal.
“I just make sure he’s going on the right path,” Jermaine said. “I stay on him about the school stuff and the football stuff, just looking after him.”
The dynamic is somewhat of a revelation, considering how the relationship between the Kearse brothers looked not that long ago.
“Believe it or not, we didn’t get along that well in high school,” Jamaal said last week. “We were still brothers, but we didn’t really talk that much. Not as much as we do now.”
Lately, the brothers have grown close. They hang out almost every day and have grown out of the sibling rivalry that pushed them apart during their teenage years.
Even though the 230-pound Jamaal physically outgrew his 205-pound “big” brother around the time he started high school, the younger Kearse said he doesn’t carry any proverbial weight over Jermaine.
“Not much, really,” said Jamaal, who is the same height as his brother at 6-foot-2. “I always respected him as my older brother.”
Said older brother: “I make sure he knows I’m still the older brother. He may be bigger, but I will take him down.”