252Buzz file photos by Bill Hudson
By Mike Grizzard
For as long as he can remember, Grant Charles Jarman could not do much of anything, especially when it came to sports, without someone nipping at his heels. Little brother Wade, just two years younger, always wanted to keep up, and he packed plenty of spunk and determination to do it.
At times, Grant Charles tolerated it. Other times, he found it a bit annoying. But that’s part of being siblings; so is the bond and support for one another that develops along the way.
“When we were younger we would fight all the time,” Grant Charles said. “But now we’re always hanging with each other at the house. Might as well do that for a little longer while I can.”
The days of the Jarman brothers enjoying moments to hang out are winding down with Grant Charles now a senior and Wade a sophomore at J.H. Rose High School. Friday night football games give the sons of Eric and Kristen Jarman of Greenville an opportunity to be on the same team, a rare opportunity they experienced only twice before this year -- two years for Jarman Auto Sales in Little League baseball and in recreation flag football.
“It’s fun playing together, coming out and going to practice every day together,” Grant Charles said this week as the Rampants prepared for a Monday night visit to Eastern Wayne. “I learn stuff from him, believe it or not, and he also learns stuff from me. It’s good to have him out there because we learn off our mistakes and show each other how to get better.”
For Wade, being on the same team as his older brother serves up both a learning experience and a challenge.
“I love it,” he said. “He helps me with everything. We just bounce ideas off each other and get better every day at practice. I was always trying to beat him out -- I still am -- competing with him so you can do better at practice every day. He wins most of the time, but it’s all right. I win some days.”
That both Jarmans are quarterbacks only enhances their ability to help -- or critique -- one another, although they go about their business in quite different ways. Grant Charles brings a steady demeanor to the huddle and at 6-4 and 180 pounds thrives more as a pocket passer. The fiery and wiry Wade, at 5-11 and 150 pounds, plays a high-risk, high-reward style with his elusiveness and energy.
“They’re very much alike at times and very different,” Rose offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Justin Allred said. “It can get kind of crazy with two brothers at the same time, but they play well off of one another, they encourage one another. That’s one thing I’ve noticed more this year, is them pushing each other to execute better and do things better in practice. Instead of having to coach everything, with them working on the same things together one may notice something that I miss or vice versa. It has helped a lot this year.”
The Jarmans represent not only the first pair of brothers he has coached at the same position but the first brothers he has worked with overall, Allred said. Grant Charles and Wade come with the extra benefit of being coached in youth leagues by their dad, who was part of a Division III World Series champion baseball team at N.C. Wesleyan.
“I’ve talked with Eric and talked with Kristen, and they push their kids to excel, and I think you can see the difference,” Allred said “There’s less of a learning curve for them because they’ve learned how to work; they’ve learned how to perfect their craft.”
Both Jarman boys began playing baseball as soon as they could pick up a bat, and expectations followed them at every level. They have excelled on the diamond and continue to play at Rose and in summer leagues but welcomed football as an escape.
“When I step on the football field there’s no pressure at all,” Wade said. “Even in big games against Conley and South Central and Tarboro this year, I haven’t felt nervous one bit. I just go out there and perform at the level that I can, and things just go smooth from there.”
Although he enjoyed youth football, Grant Charles headed to high school with no plans of continuing to play.
“I remember I never wanted to play football at Rose,” he said. “Dad is the one that forced me to do it. He wanted me to play two sports. He said either football or soccer, and I said, ‘I am not playing soccer’ so I played football.”
Grant Charles took over as the JV starting quarterback as a sophomore and threw 29 touchdown passes for a team that finished 10-0, but an elbow injury suffered against D.H. Conley required off-season surgery and sidelined him from spring and summer workouts before his junior season.
Grant Charles still opened the season as the Rampants’ starter and passed for 2,375 yards and 26 touchdowns but was intercepted 14 times. Rose, plagued by the lack of a running game and porous defense, finished 3-8.
“It was hard to bounce back from that,” Grant Charles said. “At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t as accurate as I could have been because I couldn’t work on it all summer. There was a time late last season where I thought I was 100 percent, and this year I feel 100 percent.”
Although his numbers have not been as prolific in a more balanced offense this season, Rose stands 5-3 record and in position to secure a spot in the 3-A playoffs. Through eight games, he has passed for nearly 1,500 yards with 15 touchdowns while trimming his interceptions to just four.
What Allred likes most is the leadership Grant Charles has displayed.
“I’ve seen more fire out of him this year than I walked into the season thinking I was going to see,” Allred said. “It’s made it whole lot more fun to coach him that way. He’s been attacking things, not letting things come to him like he was sometimes last year. I think that’s translated on the field in less mistakes and taking advantage of some more opportunities that we’re getting.”
And when Grant Charles returns to the sidelines after an offensive series, Wade is there waiting.
“After a bad drive I always tell him to keep his head up, and after they score I just tell him to keep doing what he’s doing,” he said. “If they’re rolling, might as well keep rolling.”
Grant Charles welcomes the encouragement.
“We’re always beside each other on the sideline,” he said. “He’s always like, ‘Good job’ or telling me what he saw, and I take that to heart and see what I can do better on the field.”
Wade learns by both watching and taking advice from his older brother.
“If you can’t listen, you’re not going to get any better,” he said. “He’s a good quarterback. If I can learn from him, that will make me a good quarterback.”
“Good” may be an understatement for Wade’s performance in guiding the Rose junior varsity team to a 9-0 record, throwing 25 touchdown passes, including 10 in the last two games, and also ranking second on the team in rushing. He also has taken a few snaps for the varsity in place of injured backup Bryson Brown, throwing one touchdown pass and running for another score, but one of his biggest contributions may be running the scout team in practice against the Rose defense.
Whatever Wade is called on to do, Allred knows what to expect.
“Whenever we’re in one-on-ones, and now at this time of the year with Bryson (in a cast), I’ve had to recruit Wade to do more,” he said. “He wants to make every throw. There’s no beginner learning curve for Wade. He won’t let himself have it. He will go ahead and take it and do everything he can to compete with those guys. It’s amazing to watch. He’s going to be a special one down the road.”
That means continuing to try to keep up with his big brother, even though Grant Charles will be off at a still-to-be-determined college. Wade said he will miss that part.
“We’ve gotten really tight these last couple of years through sports and high school,” he said. “He’s always helping me if I need help. I help him if he needs help. It’s a good relationship. It’s going to be sad when he has to go off to college.
“I’m hoping to see what I can do (next year) and see if we can win a state championship. … Hopefully next year we can get better because you always want to be better than the year before. I want this team to do good, but I want next year’s team to be even better.”
Mike Grizzard of Winterville has more than 30 years of experience as a writer for both print and digital publications in the areas of sports, business, news, faith and personal profiles. Contact Mike at 252-916-4206.