Former Lovejoy star feels right at home with former teammates

Photo by Gabriel Stovall / Jermaine Hough had a chance to enjoy a homecoming of sorts with some fellow former Lovejoy teammates.

Photo by Gabriel Stovall / Jermaine Hough had a chance to enjoy a homecoming of sorts with some fellow former Lovejoy teammates.

HAMPTON — Jermaine Hough was back on his old stomping grounds last week.

The former Lovejoy football standout returned with a few old teammates to work out, talk some friendly trash and briefly relive his glory days as a Wildcat.

"It definitely felt good to be back out here on the field where there are so many memories," Hough said. "It's always good to come back to somewhere familiar where you've had a lot of success."

Hough was indeed successful, as he was a part of a Lovejoy squad that came within one game of winning a Class AAAA championship in 2011. And in the 2010 and 2011 seasons combined, Coach Al Hughes' team posted a 24-2 mark.

Combine that with a 13-2 2012 season and a Class AAAAAA runner-up finish, and you have, by far, the most successful period of football in Lovejoy history.

"We've accomplished a lot here," Hough said. "And it definitely helps you as you move onto the next level."

Hough was successful in his true freshman season at Jacksonville State, playing in all 11 games for the Gamecocks and registering 42 total tackles — six for losses — while picking off three passes for 36 yards.

In January, the 5-foot-10 corner garnered Freshman All-American honors, according to the College Sports Journal, which means he is beginning to extend his high school reputation as a playmaker and shutdown corner into the collegiate ranks, much to the pleasure of his former position coach, Edgar Carson.

"It just makes me proud to see these guys, after they've had all the success here, and then in college and they still come back to Lovejoy to share it with this community," said Carson who is now Lovejoy's defensive coordinator.

"It's a special thing for the Lovejoy and Clayton County communities to see these guys still keep the school and the county in their minds."

Hough said he still follows the progress of his Wildcats — he and fellow former teammate Rico McWilliams, now at South Carolina, were on the sidelines during Lovejoy's 21-13 loss to Norcross in last December's state title game.

He said he also finds pleasure in talking with the upcoming Lovejoy players who are set to carry on the winning tradition that Hough and company began.

"We just keep telling these guys to keep working hard and to keep taking this thing to another level," Hough said. "Winning is something that we expect now at Lovejoy."

Hough said he'll report back to Jacksonville, Ala. soon and begin working on continuing his progress. He said he's already anxious for the season to begin.

"Last season was good, and I just want to keep building on what I started," Hough said. "I'm just trying to work hard and improve and get better each year."