Shore Sports Network Offensive Player of the Year: Long Branch’s Jermaine Corbett
Jermaine Corbett was beaming after the 2017 season, and he had every reason to be on cloud nine. He had just completed a great sophomore campaign where he ran for 1,422 yards and 14 touchdowns to help Long Branch win a state sectional title for the first time in 18 years.
Corbett was happy, but he wasn’t satisfied. He wanted more. He wanted to be seen as one of the best running backs in New Jersey.
Long Branch head coach Dan George had a simple response for Corbett, giving the rising junior a motto for his offseason: bigger, faster, stronger.
“I saw a young man who was a very good sophomore football player but still needed to work on areas to break through to that next level,” George said. “The plan was to get bigger, faster and stronger. He listened and he executed it perfectly.”
Corbett took a huge leap forward in 2018 with a state-best 2,021 yards rushing and 26 rushing touchdowns to lead a high-octane Long Branch offense that captured its second straight NJSIAA Central Jersey Group 4 championship and won a school-record 12 games. He averaged 8.7 yards per carry, totaled 2,257 yards of offense and scored 31 total touchdowns to finish fourth in the state in scoring.
From the moment Long Branch’s offseason workout program began, Corbett put in the necessary work to reach his goals. He ascended to become one of the best running backs in the Shore Conference and the most productive in New Jersey, and now he’s also the 2018 Shore Sports Network Offensive Player of the Year.
George saw signs that Corbett was changing for the better, but it wasn’t until practice began in August when he saw the full picture. This was a player ready to break out.
Corbett began the season by rushing for 164 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Hammonton. He followed that with 220 yards and four touchdowns against Toms River East and 180 yards and four touchdowns in a win over rival Ocean. The next nine games were much of the same as Corbett went over 150 yards six times, including a career-high 320 yards and four touchdowns in a 34-0 win over Manalapan. He also had 314 yards rushing and four touchdowns in a 47-14 win over Brick Memorial in Central Jersey Group 4 semifinals.
Corbett was held under 100 yards just three times in 2018, one of which was against No. 1 Red Bank Catholic in which he played only one half due to injury. He had 61 yards and a touchdown along with a kickoff return touchdown in a 26-0 win over Wall and had 85 yards and two touchdowns in a 20-17 win over Shawnee in the NJSIAA Central/South Group 4 Bowl Game.
Corbett’s greatness is a combination of many things. He has breakaway speed, very good vision and is a student of the game. Coming from a football family – Corbett’s father, his Uncle, Tidy, and his brother, Dahmiere Willis, all played for Long Branch – has put Corbett around Green Wave football his entire life. Corbett and Willis are the only Long Branch players to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season.
“He’s a ridiculously athletic kid, a smart kid, a patient kid,” George said. “And he knows football. A lot of kids play football but they don’t know football. Jermaine understands the game.”
The attribute most important to Corbett’s success is one that only his coaches and teammates get to see, however.
“He is a great practice player,” George said. “You walk on the field and whether he’s doing drills or team reps it’s 100 miles per hour. He doesn’t treat it like a walkthrough or just a random Tuesday going through the motions, it’s game condition and full speed every time. The longer I coach that’s one of the critical things your team has to do, and it’s easier to have when one of your stars does it.”
Long Branch finished the season averaging 33.5 points per game to rank as the No. 4 scoring offense in the Shore Conference. The Green Wave scored 40 or more points seven times, including a season-high 47 against Brick Memorial in the sectional semifinals. Corbett was obviously a huge part of that with one of the best offensive seasons in Long Brach history.
Most of Long Branch’s starters will graduate, including top lineman Kevin Cerruti, quarterback Marc Dennis and wideout Matt Clarke on the offensive side. If the Green Wave are to contend for another state title, Corbett will have to lead the way.
Given the way he attacked his goals to become one of the Shore’s greats, there’s no doubt he’ll enter his senior year ready for the next challenge.
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.