Here is a sight that should bother the offenses of Mid-State 38 football teams this fall: 6-foot-4, 215-pound Jameer Outsey standing straight up on the edge.
After spending the past two autumns as a defensive end in Franklin High School’s 3-4 scheme, Outsey returns to his natural position as an outside linebacker this season.
“It’s going to be a little harder to double-team him now,” Franklin coach Louis Solomon said. “It will force people to do things they normally wouldn’t do, and that’s an advantage for us.”
Outsey is a difference-maker on both sides of the ball, which is why the senior will play football at the University of Iowa next year. As a junior he recorded 44 tackles and a team-high five sacks out of a three-point stance. In the offseason, Solomon decided his linebacking corps needed a boost.
“We had lost a few kids,” the coach said, “and why not put a Division I linebacker at linebacker?”
He got no argument from Outsey.
“I feel more at home now, and I feel I can do more damage at that position,” Outsey said. “All through Pop Warner I was a linebacker, and freshman year I played linebacker.”
Outsey was shifted to defensive end as a sophomore to give Franklin more size up front.
“At defensive end it felt more crowded,” he said. “As soon as they say, ‘Go,’ you’re touched already. At linebacker you have more room to be free. It’s easier to get to the ball.”
Outsey figures to make an impact no matter where he lines up, and that includes the offensive side of the ball. He was a tight end last year, averaging an impressive 15 yards per reception. This season he may see time at tackle as well.
“He’s been a phenomenal blocker for us,” Solomon said, “hands down our best blocker for the last few years.”
The offensive line is the least glamorous unit on the field, and other players might resent having fewer opportunities to catch passes, but Outsey doesn’t mind.
“He’s willing to do whatever it takes for the team to be successful,” Solomon said. “Because of that mentality everybody else has to fall in line. If he can sacrifice, everyone else will too.”
It’s kind of an even trade, spending less time at tight end but more at linebacker. Asked whether he’s rather catch a touchdown pass or sack the quarterback, Outsey did not hesitate to answer.
“I’ll take a sack any day,” he said. “I’ve always loved defense more. The thought of making a big hit and getting the crowd into it — that feels so much better.”