WISE, Va. – A scouting report on Jamorya Cousin must include the word versatile. In bold letters.
Offense. Defense. Special teams.
He can handle it all.
“I think God put me on this earth to play football,” Cousin said. “You can put me at center or defensive tackle and I’m going to go 100 percent and show my God-given talent.”
Cousin was at running back Friday during the University of Virginia’s College at Wise’s annual spring game at Carl Smith Stadium and carried the ball nine times for 26 yards. He also caught one pass for five yards.
The White team prevailed 7-3 over the Red-clad unit in the intrasquad scrimmage, which consisted of four 10-minute quarters to finish out spring practice.
A star on both sides of the ball at Graham High School, Cousin spent time at linebacker and on special teams last season as a freshman for the Highland Cavaliers. He had two sacks and four tackles for loss among his 18 stops.
This spring the 5-foot-11, 190-pound force of nature has been rushing the ball instead of rushing the quarterback as part of a potential position switch for 2018.
“That’s something we’re definitely thinking about,” said UVa-Wise coach Dane Damron. “We recruited him as a running back and as a linebacker and told him during the recruiting process we may go either way. He just said, ‘Coach, I want to play ball.’ Two or three weeks before camp last year we told him he was going to be a linebacker and he came in and did a yeoman’s job and was integral to our defense.
“We feel like we’re going to have some depth at the linebacker position and I told him we’d give him a look this spring [at running back] and then make a decision on how it’s going to be. We’ll go back and look at all the film and make a decision.”
Cousin’s nine carries were a game-high and he touched the ball on six straight plays at one point on a fourth-quarter drive that led to the game’s only touchdown.
“I was getting the ball fed to me and the coach put a lot of trust in me,” Cousin said. “They want to see me do well and they feel like it’s a good move. … It’s been two years since I played running back, but I’m ready. I see what I’ve got to do to get to where I need to be and I just need to grind this summer.”
For offensive lineman Landon Mance, a rising junior, the spring game was a gratifying experience.
His 2017 season ended in the first game of the year when he seriously injured his ankle in UVa-Wise’s road win over Glenville State. Surgery to repair a broken fibula and torn ligaments followed for the former Richlands High School standout.
“It was the second or third series and I was blocking down and the linebacker came down on my ankle,” Mance said. “The ligaments were what was the worst part. I was on crutches the whole first semester.”
Rehabilitating the injury was grueling both mentally and physically.
“I was barely part of the team it felt like,” Mance said. “Two days after I had screws removed from the ankle I was doing rehab. It was an every-day-of-the-week process with the training staff, then reduced to four days a week, then three days a week and then two days a week.”
Mance started at left guard Friday.
“Coming back at first [when spring practice began] it was a little mentally scary, where I hadn’t played since August,” Mance said. “Luckily, my ankle’s held up and everything’s gone well.”
Mance’s clean bill of health is important as UVa-Wise’s offensive line was beset by injuries and inconsistencies during a season in which the Cavs went 5-6.
“I think [Mance] played maybe eight plays last year,” Damron said. “To be able to go through our spring practice was good for him and he’s a young man we’re counting on.”
A 41-yard field goal by Lebanon High School graduate Trevor Owens with 8:48 remaining in the second quarter and a 23-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jarome Johnson with 5:30 left in the contest were the only scores in a contest which was choppy at times, as most spring games are.
Quarterbacks Brycen Lee, Alec Grosser, Garrett Cropp and Johnson combined to go just 15-for-37 through the air with Cropp throwing an interception. Cropp is a transfer from Concord University, while Grosser is a 23-year-old from Alexandria, Virginia, who pitched for four seasons in the Atlanta Braves minor league system.
K’Jon Coley snagged an interception in the game, while Dylan Giovine made six tackles.
UVa-Wise opens the season on Aug. 30 at home against Glenville State.
“We had 14 really good practices and I’m really happy with how the spring went,” Damron said. “[Friday] was for the kids. We were fortunate we had enough depth where we could do this. They had a draft to pick the teams and it was just a good situation for them.”