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Diggs draws comparisons to Jammer

ANGLETON, Texas -- It's easy to find a comparison for the top recruits. Sometimes it's just a simple way to describe a player, by saying he's like a certain college player or has the traits of a pro player.

For Angleton's Quandre Diggs, a member of the 2011 ESPNU Watch List, the choice is simple. Look at Diggs and you see former Texas Longhorns and current San Diego Chargers CB Quentin Jammer.

His big brother.

It wasn't that long ago that Jammer roamed the Angleton secondary making big hits, playing multiple positions on offense and returning kicks. Fast-forward 13 years and Diggs, a junior, is dominating for the Wildcats in the same jack-of-all-trades role his older brother played not so long ago.

"Quandre is such an athlete. Growing up, my best friend Eric Davis and I would get out with him and throw the ball when he was 4 and 5 years old. Guys would throw him the ball pretty hard and he would catch it with his hands," Jammer said. "At that point, we knew he was pretty good and going to be a great athlete. It was easy for him."

As a freshman, Diggs accomplished a rare feat in Texas 4A football, starting both ways at quarterback and safety as well as returning kicks. At times, the then-14-year-old was referred to as the best player on the field by a coach within Angleton's district.

As a sophomore, Diggs went from being a name known within his area and district to a prospect that was on the radar of many college programs. The Wildcats advanced to the regional semifinals for the first time in nearly 20 years. Along the way Diggs racked up postseason awards and totaled more than 1,400 rushing yards, 50-plus tackles and three interceptions.

Angleton High School has seen its fair share of stars. Its rich football tradition has produced former Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro and current Atlanta Falcons coach Emmitt Thomas as well as current NFLers Ray Willis, Ahmard Hall and, of course, Jammer. And some say Diggs could be the next big thing.

"We knew when Quandre was in junior high that he was going to be special," said Angleton coach Finis Vanover, who coached Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley and Texas Longhorns kick returner and running back D.J. Monroe when they were in high school. "He was very mature mentally and physically, more than all the other 12- and 13-year-olds. He's got a great personality. He's serious about his play, but he goes about it in a jovial and lighthearted manner. When it comes to the game, he has as much fun in preparation and practice as he does playing.

"He's one of the rare ones. Those guys have 'it.' He's a natural-born leader."

Having "it" is as much a reflection on Jammer as is it Diggs. If Jammer hadn't been a positive influence growing up, there's no telling what would have happened to Diggs.

"I grew up watching my brother and he's a great role model, but we grew up in a bad part of Angleton where you grow up playing football, basketball or selling drugs. I decided that I wanted to grow up like my brother and be a better person," Diggs said. "I've modeled myself after him, and that's how I've come to love football."

It's a relationship built on more than just football. They talk on the phone three or four times a week. Jammer knows exactly what Diggs is going through. He's been there, done that and wants to make sure his younger brother doesn't hit any of the hurdles he dealt with while growing up.

"At this point, I'm just trying to teach him how to be a man and hope he doesn't go through the same struggles I went through. I try to help him and take that burden off of him so he can concentrate on football and doing his thing," Jammer said. "We don't always talk about football, but life in general. He'll call on Friday nights after games and tell me how he did, but we talk more about growing up and becoming a man than anything."

Diggs knows what to expect on those calls, and it makes him work hard to make sure there isn't anything Jammer can get on him about. But that doesn't mean he isn't shifty and looking to change the subject sometimes.

"Quentin is just really worried about me in school right now. He's really hard on me with my grades. If I don't make the grades he expects from me, he's hard on me," Diggs said. "I always want to talk to him about being a dad and how my nephew is doing."

The times they do talk about football, Diggs has plenty of highlights to talk about. Three games into his junior season, Diggs is leading the undefeated and state-ranked Wildcats with more than 400 yards of total offense and an interception, the fifth of his career. He's playing quarterback, safety, returning kicks and punts, blocking kicks and even punting.

"He's so gifted at every position he plays. He's as great a natural kick returner as I've ever seen. D.J. Monroe was as good as there has been around here, and he's showing it now, but Quandre is better. He doesn't have the 10.3 speed D.J. has, but he's a 10.6 guy and he can run it sideways, backwards, stop/start and any other way you want," Vanover said. "He catches the ball like a wide receiver. He's an uncanny running back. He's powerful and a solid 188 pounds. He's like a bomb when he runs into a defender, and the same way as a defensive back. He's got natural cover skills and great hips."

For now, Diggs' main focus is leading Angleton to the state championship game, but the recruiting process is always there.

"Our focus is trying to get to the state championship game. After last year, that is what we are working for. Football is a tradition down here. It's important and we are doing our best to make it back to that state championship game for the first time in a long time. The recruiting process is something I pay attention to when I have the time," Diggs said. "There are about 30 schools recruiting me. I know I want to visit Florida before I make a decision."

Diggs knows if he has any questions, there's always one place he can turn to find someone who has been through the same situation.

"I tell him to take his time and make sure of where he wants to go," said Jammer, who visited Florida, Michigan and Texas in 1996. "He knows I want him to go to Texas, but part of growing up and being a man is making that decision. I want him to be where his heart is. Wherever his heart leads him, he should go. His decision may be different than mine was."

Maybe the decision will be different, but the comparisons between Diggs and Jammer will likely always be the same.

Gerry Hamilton has covered recruiting in Texas and the Southwest for over a decade. He can be reached at espngerry@yahoo.com.