Redskins rookie Jarmon quite an act

Associated Press

Here's a double-feature performance you don't see often: Play in the school's spring football game, then dash across campus to perform on stage at the campus theater.

Washington Redskins defensive lineman Jeremy Jarmon did just that when he was at the University of Kentucky, going from uniform to costume with hardly a minute to spare. At least the play, entitled "Weak / Side / Help," had a football-related theme.

"Me and the play director, we joked around. He said, 'If you were to get hurt in the spring game, that would ruin the show,'" Jarmon said Sunday at Redskins training camp. "I wasn't thinking about that in the spring game, of course, but it was definitely in the back of my mind. I had, like, an hour turnaround from the end of the game to get over to shower and get on stage.

"The show was great. Spring ball was great. It just worked out perfectly."

Had things really worked out perfectly, Jarmon would currently be preparing for his final year of eligibility of football at Kentucky while pursuing a second major in theater to go along with his political science degree.

But he lost his NCAA eligibility earlier this year after testing positive for a banned substance. He said it was an over-the-counter dietary supplement he took to avoid putting on weight during the offseason, when he was unable to work out because of tendinitis in his left shoulder.

Suddenly his plans were derailed, including an already-paid-for six-week trip to study French and photography in Paris. That second major in theater? That was scratched, as well.

Jarmon instead applied for the NFL supplemental draft in July. He was selected in the third round by the Redskins — who forfeited a third-round pick in next year's regular draft in the process — and has been perhaps the most pleasant surprise for the team in training camp, giving Washington yet another dynamic weapon on an already loaded defensive line.

"He is actually a little bit further along right now than I thought he would be," defensive coordinator Greg Blache said. "Honestly, some of the things that he can do athletically help bring him up. When his mind catches up with his athletic skills, I think he will possibly be on the field even a little sooner than we thought."

Unlike other rookies, Jarmon didn't get a chance to take part in spring minicamp or other offseason practices. He said he made up for it by studying the play book and videos of Redskins practices. Usually a rookie's head is swimming on Day 1 of camp, but Jarmon said: "It seemed to come natural."

Perhaps performing in front of coaches is a little easier for college students who have also performed on stage. Jarmon caught the theater bug in high school, when he portrayed McDuff in "MacBeth" and Col. Nathan Jessup (a role made famous in the movies by Jack Nicholson) in "A Few Good Men."

With his projecting, bass voice, it's not hard to imagine Jarmon on stage, but it's rare in college to mix theater and sports. The long late-night rehearsals are rarely compatible with long late-afternoon practices.

"It was real tough, but I made a dedication to it," Jarmon said. "And I had fun. ... I was the sole theater guy on our team, but it pretty much just sent a message to guys that we're athletes, we come out here to practice, but that doesn't define who we are. At the end of the day, when I get out of these pads, I study and I know my assignments, I still have another life. I have other interests."

Jarmon had mixed feelings when he thinks about how his life was changed because of the drug test, but now he has new goals. In a couple of years, after he's acclimated to NFL life, he plans to go back to school and study diplomacy and national security. Perhaps he'll even dabble in the stage again.

For now, however, he's focused on the Redskins, where game day brings the same butterflies as opening night.

"I'm always nervous before a game. I'm always nervous before a show," he said. "With theater, I'm nervous, but once I start speaking, my nerves are gone. It's the same when I get out on the football field on game day. After the ball is snapped and my play's over, 'OK, let's go.'"

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