For Christian Brothers cornerback Jaxon Hammond, this season will be one last ride after years of hard work.
Hammond and his close friends on the team have all been played football together since the sixth grade.
“I really want to enjoy every moment of this last season with them,” Hammond said. “It’s sad in some ways, but at the same time I know I have made the most out of it. It will be really different not playing with the same people next year.”
Hammond is No. 7 on The Commercial Appeal’s Dandy Dozen, a collection of the top Class of 2023 college football prospects from the Memphis area as picked by the newspaper. Hammond, a 5-foot-11, 160-pound senior, is the No. 39 prospect in the state, according to the 247Sports Composite. He has committed to Army.
Hammond first began catching the attention of coaches at the age of 9.
The three-star cornerback said he always had faith in himself, but as his relationship with Alabama State defensive backs coach James Williams grew, his confidence in himself grew at the same rate.
Hammond committed to Army on June 26 after visiting the school four days prior. He also had an in-home visit from assistant Cortney Braswell, who has coached at high schools in Tennessee.
Taking football seriously
Hammond’s initial introduction to Williams occurred when he was 9 while running track for the Memphis Mustangs. Williams’ son was also a member of the same track team.
Williams recalled Hammond coming to sit next to him after he finished running each race, regardless of if he had won or lost. Williams jokingly explained Hammond would sit by him for a longer time if his race resulted in a loss.
One day, after a track meet, Williams told Hammond’s father that his son would make a great football player. At the time, Hammond enjoyed football, but taking it seriously was not one of his top priorities.
Williams invited Hammond to a Pro Process Academy workout where he was coaching at the time. Pro Process Academy is a mentoring and physical training 7-on-7 football program.
Hammond took Williams up on his offer and showed up for the workout.
“I worked out with the older guys, and they were putting me through it,” Hammond said. “We did one-on-ones and I didn’t win a single rep. That was pretty hard.”
Although Hammond’s experience at first glance was not ideal, it unveiled the moment Williams knew Division I football was in Hammond’s future.
Memphis defensive back Greg Rubin was also at the workout and helped solidify Williams’ decision to add Hammond to the team.
“Jaxon was competing so hard, and I had to make a decision to either keep Jaxon or a kid that was older than him,” Williams said.
Williams recalled Rubin looked over at him and saying, “Coach, you have to keep Jaxon because didn’t you tell me this program is built on hard work, being fearless and the desire to be great.”
Once Hammond earned a spot, Williams remembers Hammond calling him almost every Sunday to meet him at a field for extra work.
“A lot of people believe players have to be almost like a rose that grew from the concrete in order to be great,” Williams said. “I don’t necessarily believe that. Jaxon is a privileged kid, but what makes him special is the fact that he does not rely on that. He acts as if he has nothing and that every day is his last chance to play football.”
Christian Brothers coach Thomas McDaniel and Williams both explained Hammond exhibits high levels of maturity that he will need to rely on to succeed at Army.
“Jaxon has many positive energies,” McDaniel said. “He just has a very likable personality. He is one of those guys that everyone naturally gravitates towards. Jaxon never seems to truly have a bad day.”
Added Williams, “No matter what life throws at Jaxon, I know he will be fine.”.
Alexis Davis is a sports reporting intern for the Memphis Commerical Appeal. Contact her at email@example.com.