JOHNSTON, S.C. — Growing up in the Strom Thurmond football program, Jauveer Hammond had plenty of athletes to look up to.
After earning the role of starting quarterback his junior year, Hammond went on to earn much more in his final two seasons, culminating in being named The Augusta Chronicle’s South Carolina Football Player of the Year.
Hammond has followed in the footsteps of previous standouts to wear the Strom Thurmond jersey. The Hillary family is a staple in the program, with Antwaun, CoCo and Aramis all leading the Rebel offense at one point. Jauveer’s cousin, Darius Hammond, graduated last year after the two combined to lead the Rebels to a 12-2 record and semifinal appearance in 2012.
“Every year, I wanted to be like the best player here,” Jauveer Hammond said. “From ninth through 11th grade, I wanted to be like guys like Hykeem Brooks and Aaron Cook. Last year, Darius Hammond had a great heart and was very humble. I wanted to be like him.”
But 2013 was Hammond’s season. Hammond threw for 1,745 yards and 14 touchdowns, and ran for 1,356 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Strom Thurmond finished 11-2 and reached the third round of the Class AAA playoffs while winning its ninth region title in 10 years.
“This year, I wanted to put the team on my back and show them I can do it, too,” he said. “I took on that leadership role.”
Hammond carried the weight of his team to near-extreme levels at times. Against a then-undefeated Class AAAA North Augusta team, Hammond accounted for 344 total yards, including 229 through the air, as the Rebels nearly pulled off the upset.
Against Midland Valley, the athletic quarterback recorded 243 total yards, including 121 on the ground, to clinch the region title.
Antwaun Hillary, who now coaches Strom Thurmond quarterbacks, said Hammond has progressed beyond expectations.
“I already knew what he was going to give us running the ball, but as a passer he has really developed,” Hillary said. “Being a student of the game, that last two years you can really tell the difference between how he started and how he finished up as far as the mental aspect of the game.”
Hammond said he embraced the role of leader in his final season. He would text teammates asking if they wanted to throw on days off, working overtime to build connections with his receivers. It was a meeting with the Strom Thurmond coaching staff prior to the 2012 season that gave him motivation.
“They sat me down and said they trusted me and believed I could put the team on my back and play quarterback,” Hammond said. “Once they told me that, I had the determination to be the best player out on the field. No matter who we play, I just want to be the best player.”
Hammond is working toward continuing another Strom Thurmond tradition of playing at the next level. He’s looking at several colleges. No matter where he plays next, Hammond said he hopes the success will continue to the next wave of talent at Strom Thurmond.
“I looked up to the guys above me,” he said. “I tried to carry on the tradition, and I hope the guys can after me, too.”