His teammates call him Cam Reed — a little bit Cam Newton, a little bit Ed Reed.
Jay Christophe, Brusly’s senior quarterback, always wanted to play safety. When he got the chance to play with the second-team defense against Baker in Week 2, Christophe’s punishing tackle earned comparisons to the All-Pro Baltimore Raven.
A week later, when he threw four touchdowns and ran for 136 yards, he started to resemble the former Auburn quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner. That’s when the
two associations merged together.
“It’s just a little joke going around,” Christophe said. “I just said it during practice to get everyone going and to get the vibe up.”
For Brusly to continue building off its 3-0 start, coach Erik Willis would probably prefer to see a lot more Cam and a little less Reed. Willis said Christophe accounts for about 75 percent of the offense and called him the biggest factor in whether or not the Panthers reach their goals.
“Not only with his physical skills but his leadership skills too,” Willis said. “Everybody is comfortable when he’s out there. It’s a sense of security. We definitely put a lot on him.”
Since earning the starting job in his sophomore season, Christophe has evolved from what Willis called a super, yet raw, athlete.
Primarily a run-first quarterback early in his high school career, Christophe has made dramatic improvements in each subsequent season.
“He just lacked experience,” Willis said. “He got a little bit his sophomore year, then last year he got a lot more. He had some good games, and he made some mistakes in others, but this year he’s a much different quarterback.”
Working with Marc Brown, Brusly’s first-year offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Christophe improved his mechanics and footwork in the offseason. Brown also taught him how to read defenses better and keep his eyes downfield when scrambling from the pocket.
Christophe also made a point of throwing as much as possible in the summer and ran countless 7-on-7 drills with his receivers. He wanted to be sure colleges noticed his abilities extended beyond just running the ball.
With scholarship offers from Howard and Southern — other schools have also shown interest in him as an athlete — Christophe hopes this season he can prove himself as a true passer.
“I’m sure they know I can run, that I’m a good athlete,” he said. “But I wanted to show them that I also could pass. … I still have a lot of work to do.”
With plenty of room to improve on the field, Willis said Christophe has made great strides in adopting the mentality of a college quarterback. When asked about his and the team’s primary goal this season, Christophe mentioned winning, but most important it was getting his team on “one heartbeat.”
“That means everybody getting on the same page with one common goal, which is to not just become better football players, but better men — to look after each other like a family,” Christophe said.
And that Brusly family is off to a promising start. After overcoming six turnovers to squeak by Plaquemine in the opening week, the Panthers have rolled past Baker and Riverside.
Brusly’s first-team offense has not committed a turnover since the first game, and a lot of that has to do with the added responsibility Christophe has taken when mistakes are made.
“Everything that happens is my fault,” Christophe said. “Some stuff is really not my fault, but it is because I’m in control of everything. … That just goes with the job.”
With the right mix of talent and experience around Christophe, Willis has aspirations of making a deep run in the playoffs.
Brusly has reached the postseason in three of the past four years but has failed to make it past the first round.
Willis has his eyes focused on the quarterfinals, because as Willis puts it, once you get there, “anything can happen.”
“We can’t get to the quarterfinals if we don’t win a playoff game,” Willis said. “We have our sights set on getting to the Dome, but first things first, and that’s to win a playoff game.”
Despite being the senior leader of a team who has a future in college football, Christophe stays humble. He makes sure his friends and teammates see him as more than just a football player, and knows that there’s more to prosperity than just playing like Reed and Newton.
“It’s about taking advice from everybody,” Christophe said. “The person that never played football might tell you the most important thing that sticks with you.”