First Posted: 9/30/2009
Julius Coram doesnt necessarily look like a normal 14-year-old high school freshman.
For starters, he has feet the size of a flat-bed truck and a physique any high school football coach wouldnt mind in his locker room.
But the thing that most sets him apart from his fellow freshmen on the Granite Bears football team is the color of his practice jersey and the night he takes the field.
Coram is the first freshman to start on the Bears varsity team since Aaron Culler five seasons ago.
The 6-0 185-pound defensive end has not just contributed, he has been exceptional at times, with his speed and athleticism causing problems for opposing offensive lines.
Coram, who is as soft spoken as any high school freshman, said he is happy about being on the varsity.
I guess I feel good about it, he said. I was a little nervous, but after the first game, I wasnt nervous anymore. I am definitely learning.
Coram said coaches Chris Johnson and Darren Taylor have worked with him closely to not only learn the intricacies of the Bears defense, but fundamentals which will help him become a better player.
Some of Corams teammates also have taken the budding star under their wing. Coram said seniors Luke Wheeler and Darrell Valentine in particular have shown interest in helping the youngster make the adjustment not just to varsity but to high school football.
Luke has helped me a lot and Darrell has been teaching me stuff like moves and helping me out when I have a question, Coram said.
With a good support system in place and a load of raw talent, the Bears figure on Coram being an integral part of their defensive front for years to come.
Coach Donald Price said initially Coram was not pegged to be a varsity player, but eventually the coaching staff had to reevaluate its stance.
Julius coming up was a pleasant surprise to us, Price said. When he came out, we projected him probably playing JV and we have a great desire to let every freshman play at least one year of JV, but due to his abilities and what we saw, we felt like it would be more beneficial to him and the team to let him be challenged.
While Coram has had some freshman moments on the field, Price said for the most part, he has made the transition well, keeping his frustration to a minimum.
We do some stuff on defense that requires a little extra effort both mentally and physically, he said. I think we do a little bit more with adjustments than they do in middle school and he has really picked up on that. Hes a good student and thats really paid off towards his efforts on the football field.
Corams older brother, J.B., is a top basketball player at North Surry High School and was, until recently, a member of the Greyhounds football team.
The younger Coram said he would have liked to have a chance to hit his brother but said just having the chance to get one up on him would have been even sweeter.
The Granite Bears think Coram still has some growing to do, and with his brother coming in at 6-4 just being 14, Julius could have several more inches left to sprout.
But no matter how he matures physically, Mount Airys opponents will surely come to know #39 and Coram intimately during the next three years.