RED SPRINGS — Leading into high school football practice starting on July 31, The Robesonian’s sports reporter Jonathan Bym is publishing a countdown of the top 15 players in Robeson County, and Red Springs’ Jerome Bass comes in at No. 1 on the list.
After being one of the most formidable defenders that most teams came across in the county last year, Bass has news for teams this year that they might not like. The reigning Robeson County defensive Player of the Year is back and is better, and more versatile than he was last year.
“I’m excited because I’m bigger and stronger than I’ve ever been before,” Bass said. “I’m just looking to be the best that I can be this year and hopefully become the defensive Player of the Year again.”
First-year coach Lawrence Ches has seen Bass over his first three seasons with the program as an assistant and knows what he brings to the table, and more this year challenging him to do more with his skill set that also puts him on offense.
“Size, speed and strength,” Ches said of Bass’ attributes. “He’s 260 catching jump balls in the end zone.”
Last year, Bass came along as a new offensive threat midway through the year, and his athleticism has shown through 7-on-7s this summer as the senior will be used in more roles than he was at the start of last season.
“Beginning of the season last year, I couldn’t do anything on offense but run the ball, but now I’m out here being able to run the routes and hang with all the small receivers,” Bass said.
“He’s a freak athlete and he’s going to be used in a bunch of positions and doing a lot of things,” Ches said. “He’s going to be our X-factor.”
Bass makes the move this year from the defensive end position and will be the middle linebacker for the Red Devils’ defense, that returns a large amount of its starters from a year ago.
“It’s new, but I’m enjoying it though,” he said of the position change. “I think we should be really good this year.”
One of, if not, the strongest players on the Red Springs roster, Bass lets his fear of complacency be the force that keeps him going now that he looks to repeat as defensive Player of the Year. This offseason he has drawn attention from several in-state colleges football teams and also had a visit from a coach from Army-West Point on campus. With the heightened expectations for himself, Bass doesn’t want to let himself or his team down, so he keeps working harder.
“What drives me is how the team depends on me and I don’t want to let them down. That’s my biggest issue,” Bass said. “I’m scared of letting them down and letting myself down so I do my best for them.”
“He’s all the way in. He’s an animal and he never shows any quit,” Ches said.
When it comes to his defense of what he accomplished and received last year, Bass wants to show that last year wasn’t a fluke.
“I want do get defensive player of the year and show everybody what I’m capable of, and hopefully break that 100-tackle mark,” he said.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.