Paint Branch High School football coach Mike Nesmith and senior receiver Javonn Curry said they have a similar exchange whenever they pass each other in the hallway.
“Are you going to make any big plays at all this year?” Nesmith asks.
“I got you, coach,” Curry says after laughing. “It's going to come.”
“I hope so,” Nesmith says. “The year's almost over. Make a play.”
Of course, Nesmith is just taking advantage of one of his favorite Curry attributes, his ability to take a joke. Curry has 41 catches for 600 yards and 11 touchdowns entering No. 6 Paint Branch's game against No. 8 Sherwood on Friday.
Really, Nesmith expected this type of production last season from Curry. But caught on a team with internal issues, Curry was limited.
The year before, Curry led Paint Branch to a championship in the Freaks in Cleats 7-on-7 tournament at Towson when several top older players were out with injuries. Ever since, Nesmith was sky high on the player who'd already impressed him as a freshman on junior varsity.
“We've seen those flashes that, when he was on — in that passing league tournament, he was on — no one would stop him,” Nesmith said. “He's got great size. You're not going to have a lot of defensive backs that can cover a 6-[foot]-3 wide receiver in high school that's got very good speed and is going up to catch balls with his hands. We knew that, if he played to his potential, that he could be what he's become.”
Curry never played organized football before high school, though he said he was pretty good in pick-up games with his friends. As he learned to wear pads and run plays, he was still at least somewhat unsure of himself for his first couple seasons.
He wasn't unconfident. He just wasn't confident.
“I didn't really have any,” Curry said of expectations when he joined Paint Branch's football program. “I knew I could catch, and I was pretty fast. I was just going out and trying to see if I actually could be good.”
Still, Curry has no scholarship offers, though Towson has shown interest ever since that 7-on-7 tournament in the summer of 2011. Since, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Robert Morris and Stony Brook have expressed interest.
Discussing Curry's prospects of landing a scholarship offer, Nesmith uses the knowledge he feigns lacking in the Paint Branch hallways.
“It's going to pick up for him,” Nesmith said. “I really think, as the year goes on and if we're able to have success in the playoffs, once people start looking at his film, they're going to realize this kid is a pretty special talent.”