To understand Jarrett Brown, it is probably best to understand his mentor, JaJuan Seider.
Seider and Brown were re-united at Camp Mountaineer last June when Seider came back to his alma mater to assist offensive coordinator-quarterbacks Jeff Mullen with the QBs.
Seider had played QB at West Virginia from 1996-98. For two of those years, he played behind Marc Bulger, who is still playing in the National Football League. Seider, too, was drafted--based on one football season at Florida A&M--but after a brief try-out, he returned to WVU to graduate and then headed south.
Seider was one of about a 10 Mountaineers who were recruited by present recruiting director Doc Holliday during the mid-to-late '90s out of the Lake Okeechobee, Fla., area.
With his degree, Seider returned to Belle Glade, the home of his mother, Kathy, and most of her family.
It was there that Seider, as a boy, had befriended a man known as Julius Hamilton. Hamilton had graduated from the old Lake Shore High School. At Lake Shore, Hamilton and James Brown, Jarrett's father, had played football together. They were life-long friends.
"I remember JaJuan as this little kid who was always hanging around Lake Shore and the football team and Julius, who has been my friend all my life," James Brown said Monday afternoon.
When JaJuan returned home in about 2000, Julius helped JaJuan get on the staff of the new school, Glades Central High, where JaJuan's parents also were on staff. Kathy Seider remains an administrative assistant at the school. JaJuan's father coaches girls' track at another school.
JaJuan stayed at Glades Central for several seasons. Then two of his old teammates, Darren Studstill and Ryan Brady, called Seider. They had a talented freshman quarterback coming up and wanted someone to personally assist Jarrett Brown.
"I remember Jarrett told me that before JaJuan came over there, he just threw the football. Jarrett didn't know a thing about football until Jarrett taught him. That's what he said," said James Brown.
Seider coached at Palm Beach Lakes through Brown's senior season. It was then that Holliday started recruiting Brown for North Carolina State; Herb Hand and Seider started recruiting Brown for West Virginia. Minnesota was also a finalist for Brown's signature on signing day of 2005.
"He was offered by a lot of schools. North Carolina State, Minnesota and West Virginia--all kinds of schools he could have gone to. JaJuan had gone to school at West Virginia. Some kind of way--West Virginia had found out about Jarrett. Jarrett came up to Morgantown and fell in love with the place. He went to N.C. State and Minnesota, but he signed with West Virginia," James Brown said.
The same year that Brown signed, so did a linebacker from West Virginia, Reed Williams. Meanwhile, Seider had started his eligibility the same year as Amos Zereoue. This is important to understand, because--like mentor; like pupil--Seider decided to stay at West Virginia until the fall of his senior year, 1999. Brown stayed until his senior year, which starts in less than two weeks.
"Sometimes when you are committed to something, you can't quit it. That's your teammates, your bond, your brotherhood. It was hard for me to leave Amos. All those guys, Steve Slaton, Reed Williams--that was hard for Jarrett to leave," said Seider.."That was hard. For me to leave Amos. Wherever we went; it's like a family. It's like a little kid who can't leave the house. The 'house' here is the program. You are loyal to the program," Seider said Monday night.
The same year Brown and Williams came to West Virginia, Pat White was a red-shirt freshman. White broke into the starting lineup and now he is competing for a back-up quarterback role with the Miami Dolphins.
Brown came up in 2006 to back-up White, who had established himself as the starter after leading the Mountaineers to an historic Sugar Bowl win.
"The thing with Jarrett was, he played just enough to get a taste for it. That brought him back the next year," Seider said.
As Seider moved back to Glades Central as an assistant coach, Brown played in six games his red-shirt freshman season at WVU. He completed 28-of-47 passes with two touchdowns and one interception. His biggest game came in the regular-season-ending victory over Rutgers. White was pulled right before the game with a series of minor injuries. The Mountaineers played in and won the Gator Bowl that January.
Coming off the red-shirt freshman year, when he played in six games and starred in what turned out to be the most important one, Brown had hopes of playing more as a sophomore. He saw action in 10 games, but threw for fewer yards than he had his first year up. He completed two touchdown passes and was intercepted once. He only saw action when White was knocked out of games.
As a junior last season, Brown played in one less game than the previous season. He completed 28 of 47 passes with one TD and one interception. Again, he was limited to playing mostly when Pat got hurt. At one point, the coaches attempted to use him as a running back in short yardage situations.
The years 2007 and 2008 were the most difficult on Brown, Seider said.
"Oh, definitely, I think he felt he was going to get a lot more playing time both of those years."
"It was a long story which I could tell you in a long, painful way," said James Brown.
"I used to ask myself, 'Why didn't he just transfer?' But he is that kind of kid. He surprised me when he stayed. He surprised me for being a man of his word. We thought about it; we wanted him to transfer. It was his decision to stay or go. He wanted to stick it out. . . . . The way Pat White was going to run the ball. . . . . Jarrett was going to get his chance sooner or later. Quite a few times he did and he did great. He made up his mind to stick with West Virginia. I was proud of him. He could have gone on somewhere else and played."
James Brown is staying with his son through the first two games. Both Liberty (Sept. 5) and East Carolina (Sept. 12) are at home. He has a job in Georgia the week prior to the Sept. 19 Auburn game in Alabama, "so I will be able to get over there."
More good news--eldest daughter Jamie, a 20-year U.S. Army veteran, Jamie will be stationed in Virginia, "about four hours away. . . . She babied that kid all his life. When Jarrett graduated from high school, I bought him a Dodge Charger. Jamie is the one who bought him new tires and rims for that car," said James.
Seider said Jarrett Brown will be an improved quarterback because he has worked with Jeff Mullen throughout the off-season. Prior to his junior season, Jarrett played basketball and was gone for much of winter conditioning and spring football.
As for Seider, he has come full circle, too. He left his job as quarterbacks coach at Lake Worth (Fla.) last summer to return to WVU to be a graduate assistant. Head coach Bill Stewart assigned Seider to the quarterbacks.
Seider will earn his master's in December. After that, who knows where he will go.
"If I come back just too see him have a great year; let him know he has a shoulder to lean on--that's enough for me," Seider said, "whether I get a job out of this or not."