Harlem High School football coach Jimmie Lewis thinks he's seen the second coming, and we're not talking about a religious experience.
Tim Camp has taken over at quarterback for Harlem, and the senior is drawing comparisons to Domonique Brown, the star play-caller who helped lead the Bulldogs to the state playoffs in 2000 and 2001.
"He's in the Domonique Brown range," Lewis said of Camp. "It's kind of scary. It looks like he's been running this offense for three years, and this is his first season at quarterback."
Maybe there's something in the water - in Alaska, that is. Brown and Camp are part of military families and each lived in Alaska before moving to Harlem.
Their shared traits include strength, speed and intelligence, but the comparisons end there.
Brown became a starting quarterback at Harlem during his freshman season, and kept improving throughout his prep career.
Camp was a return man, running back and defensive back for Harlem the past two seasons, and although he saw some action at quarterback during practices last year, he has never stood behind center in a game.
Now Camp is poised to stand front and center for Harlem this season.
"We're gearing our offense around him," Lewis said.
During the Bulldogs' midnight practice July 28, the first official full-gear workout, Lewis saw the light, and so did the large group of Harlem fans in attendance.
Camp's conversion to QB was cemented with two moments of magic - he plowed over a would-be tackler during an Oklahoma drill, and later he lofted a long pass downfield and hit a receiver on the numbers.
Both plays drew cheers from the crowd, and the prospects just keep getting brighter for Camp.
"He's the real deal. I'm super-impressed so far," Lewis said. "He's leading the team, he runs the triple option like a veteran and he throws well. As long as he stays healthy, we're in good shape."
Lewis may use Camp at cornerback in crucial situations this season, but he added, "we have to be real careful."
Harlem's opponents will have to be careful as well. Camp checks in at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds and his 40-yard dash is clocked at 4.5.
Along with the power to run over or past defenders, Camp could fire up Harlem's passing game.
"I'm more comfortable running because I've played running back all of my life, but I think I've improved my throwing ability over the summer," said Camp, who attended football camps at University of Georgia and Middle Tennessee State University.
Part of the learning process has taken place at home. Brown, who now plays for the Clark Atlanta University football team, has given Camp some tips on how to make the triple-option go.
"He's been working with me at practice, showing me the footwork and how to read the defense," Camp said.
Camp's potential this season is tied to his supporting cast. Returning offensive linemen David Dye, Robert Jones and Foster Moore will have to open up the running lanes, while A-back Donny DeMore will be expected to carry some of the offensive load for the Dogs.
But in the triple-option offense, the quarterback sets the tone. Camp accepts that responsibility and leads by example.
"He doesn't say a whole lot, but he doesn't have to say a word to get (his teammates') attention. He commands respect with his attitude and hard work," Lewis said. "He's always hustling, he's first when we do sprints and laps. I think he realizes what he has the opportunity to do."
Among those opportunities is the chance to play college football. The U.S. Air Force Academy and Georgia Southern University are among several teams that have expressed interest, and if Camp excels as a senior, more programs could come calling.
While he expects to be a defensive back in college, Camp has to first master the quarterback position. His immediate goals are to help Harlem post a winning season and see the Dogs secure a spot in the Class AAA state playoffs.
Harlem travels to Washington-Wilkes High School for a scrimmage this Friday at 7:30 p.m, and the Dogs are on home turf Aug. 22 for a scrimmage against Glenn Hills High School.
Those scrimmages will help prepare Camp for the regular-season opener with Aquinas on Aug. 29 at Harlem. Then the real test begins, and Camp says he's going to pass - and run.
"I've never played quarterback in a game, so I don't know what it's going to be like," Camp said. "It's not really too much pressure for me. When I first started practice, learning the offense was complicated, but you do so many reps, it's become second nature to me now."
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