Jamree Kromah: Path To The NFL Draft

By Simon Carroll

For millions of high school football stars, playing for a Power 5 college football program is the ultimate goal. But what happens when the reality does not equal the dream? When the experience falls short of expectations? At that point it takes a certain mindset to change the momentum of a football career, a willingness to make bold decisions in order to realize your potential.

Jamree Kromah had that mindset – and his brave choice to find a new home has put him on the verge of achieving a lifelong dream. The former Rutgers and James Madison edge rusher sits down with Simon Carroll to discuss his path to the NFL Draft:

It Was Always Football

First setting my eyes on Jamree Kromah over a Zoom call, I found it quite difficult to imagine this 6’4”, 275lb behemoth with a glorious beard in front of me was ever a child. But of course he once was, a young boy who was inspired by his brother Kay’s exploits on a football field to not only follow in his footsteps – but surpass them:

“I’m the youngest of three boys, and come from a single parent household. I was actually born in Houston, but grew up in Maryland – me and my family moved to Glenarden when I was about four. And I started playing football when I was about eight years old; watching my older brother play in high school really inspired me. His senior year of high school was incredible, then he went on to college at Albright in Pennsylvania then back home at Towson in Maryland. I wanted that for myself – I didn’t want to just be like him, I wanted to be better than him.”

That mission began at Charles Herbert Flowers High School. Kromah eventually had a successful four year career playing for the Jaguars, even if it took him a couple of campaigns to grow into his body and find his true position:

“My time at Charles Herbert Flowers, it started a little slow. My first two years we weren’t the best program, and I was a buck eighty-five, so a smaller dude playing linebacker. But we slowly turned it around. We began winning a lot of games, started earning respect from our opponents. And through that time I kept growing, and my high school coach who helped me get to college, he came in my junior year and told me if I took it seriously, I’d get a scholarship if I played defensive lineman, predominantly as an edge rusher. So that was it then – I started working hard at it, honing my craft – and as a senior it all came together.”

It certainly did; his final year at CH Flowers, Kromah racked up 27 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and an interception. As a pure edge rusher, Jamree earned first team all-metro and second team all-Maryland honors as he helped his school make the playoffs. Unsurprisingly, college football programs took notice, eventually leading Kromah to Rutgers University:

“Looking back at it, I was a three-star recruit and had plenty of offers – initially, I was actually verbally committed to Old Dominion. But then after that big senior year, Rutgers came into the picture, showing some serious interest. My family and I decided to take a visit over there, which went really well. It was a no-brainer to commit and sign really; it was my dream to play in the Big Ten, play for a Power 5 school. And being from Maryland, it would have been nice if it was the Terps – but sadly no scholarship offer came from them. So I took myself off to New Jersey instead.”

Rutgers: Highs And Lows

Arriving in New Brunswick in 2018, Jamree Kromah redshirted his first season. Chomping at the bit to make an impact, he would have to wait until Week 1 of the following year to put himself on the map – and he duly did, getting a sack against UMass in his first ever college football game. That was a high point in a season that went quickly south for Rutgers – and brought Kromah his first taste of adversity:

“It felt good for sure. Your whole life up to that point is hard work. Chasing your dream to play in college is fun, but it’s a lot of effort and sacrifice. So getting that sack in my first career game was special – it’s something I’ll definitely remember forever. But obviously it was a tough time for the team; Coach Ash got fired, the guy who recruited me and gave me that chance to play for Rutgers. I had to be strong mentally at that point – just think about the next game, because there was a lot of football left to be played, and a lot at stake. I was just coming through, earning some snaps, and had a lot to prove for my future.”

Kromah would make just seven tackles in the four games he played in that first season on the field. 2020 felt like the year he would be able to really establish himself on the Scarlet Knights’ defense, but fate had other ideas. Whilst college football grappled with a global pandemic, Jamree had trouble keeping himself healthy:

“The COVID year for me was actually a washout due to injury. The first game under Coach Schiano, a big win at Michigan State, I actually got rolled on and suffered a sprained ankle. It was something I had dealt with in 2019 too – a lot of my time at Rutgers was interrupted with annoying injuries. That season I tried to come back quickly a couple of weeks later and re-aggravated it – and the next time I saw the field was the final game of the year against Nebraska. It was frustrating, as it felt to me like my time had come to break out, but I just didn’t get the chance.”.

A serious individual that exudes a business-orientated vibe, Kromah gives succinct answers to most of my questions. But that’s not to say they weren’t thoughtful ones. 2020 was also the season that Rutgers legend Greg Schiano returned to lead the program – and Jamree was happy to share the difference in approach from his new head coach:

“Being around those two coaching systems, you could definitely tell a difference. With Coach Schiano, it was amazing how much you learned about the game that you never knew you didn’t know! From an intelligence standpoint, that man KNOWS situational football. His knowledge and teaching definitely helped me along the way.”

Schiano’s impact at Rutgers was obvious; his first two seasons, he won as many games as his predecessor achieved in his four year tenure. And 2021 represented the best campaign for Kromah too, with modest improvement in his stats from his redshirt freshman season. Despite the gradual growth, it didn’t reach Kromah’s expectations; he wanted more, and he knew he would have to go elsewhere to achieve it:

“I knew there was another level for me, and I’d only reach it with more opportunities. I loved my time at Rutgers, but I felt like I wasn’t yet the player I wanted to become. When it was all over, I didn’t want to look back and say ‘I wish I could have done this or that’. I had to take advantage of my time right now. If I hadn’t taken that risk I would have regretted it. I know I’d be in a different place right now wondering ‘what if’ – and that wouldn’t sit well with me.”

Joining The James Madison Revolution

Taking that business mentality with him, Jamree Kromah began looking for a new home. There was only one goal; to find somewhere that would allow him to maximize his abilities, and see what it could lead to. One school stood out from the rest – and deep down, Kromah knew it even prior to leaving Rutgers:

“I remember watching James Madison play North Dakota State even before I’d jumped into the transfer portal. I liked a lot of what I saw; the scheme, the defense. I wasn’t thinking about moving at that point, but I kept saying to myself ‘this is a good school right here’. So when I did eventually enter the portal, it was one of the schools I had in mind. The distance was closer to home, the fit felt good football-wise, and they’d just made the jump to the FBS. Incredibly, they were one of the first schools to reach out to me, even if they didn’t offer me right away – their defensive coordinator at the time, Coach Hetherman, actually just got the DC job at Rutgers! So we were going the opposite direction to each other, and JMU had to sort their staff first. But once the new DC and d-line coach were in place, they watched my film and extended me an offer immediately. Other schools were interested, but the Dukes were always going to be the one.”

Kromah is an astute young man, someone who very much sees the big picture. Arriving at Harrisonburg, the situation was exactly how he envisioned it – and it allowed him to begin realizing his potential:

“Everyone’s career trajectory is different. For me, the jump from Rutgers to JMU saw things start clicking. Being in the right system was important – and opportunities too; that last year at Rutgers, I really felt like I had more to give to the game. I wanted to go somewhere that allowed me to do a lot more, showcase what I’m about, and give me that platform to work for an NFL career. It was a big decision for me, but one I knew I had to make – I had to turn my career around. That first year at James Madison, it was night and day to what I put together the four years before that.”

Once again showing his awareness of how he got to where he is today, Kromah was quick to praise the coaching setup at his new home – and there was one coach in particular that became an important mentor for Jamree:

“The coaching at JMU, it’s like a big family. There’s a lot of promotion from within, and Coach Cignetti does a great job with the culture and atmosphere there. My d-line coach, Pat Kuntz, he did a special job helping me develop my game. I would not be the player I am today without him. There’s a big focus on that at James Madison, developing and maximizing guys to be the best they could be. And I really benefited from that. Coach Kuntz, he came over from VMI, and that was a big step up for him. I knew he’d be around for my two years, which really made me feel comfortable. What he did for me I will never forget – I didn’t get here by myself. I needed help along the way – and the knowledge I was seeking, Coach Kuntz gave it to me. He taught me how to be a leader, how to be a professional even more than I already was.”

Taking His Opportunity

Now operating in the perfect environment, Jamree Kromah was ready to perform. And 2022 was a watershed moment in his career, as he finally delivered the production he knew he was capable of. In one season, he had more tackles (21), TFL’s (5.5) and sacks (3.5) than he had achieved in three seasons playing for Rutgers. Kromah had finally arrived:

“When I first got to James Madison – and even before that at Rutgers – all my coaches knew what I wanted to do, and that I was capable of doing it. And I appreciated that when you get to a new place you have to work hard – of course nothing is given to you. But I’ve always preferred it that way – I like earning it, being pushed, being challenged. It gets more out of you. But they knew I could be the guy, be a stud on defense. All the way through that season I was getting better, feeling more comfortable in the scheme. And you really started seeing my game elevate towards that back half of the season. I became a starter, and it felt good. I didn’t give that spot back once I had it.”

2022 was also JMU’s first season at the FBS level. And it was as successful as they could have ever imagined, winning eight games and making a mockery of the so called ‘step up’ from the FCS. But year two was even better, as the team had a double-digit win season and made an FBS bowl game for the first time in school history. In tandem, Kromah absolutely EXPLODED, becoming the de facto leader of one of the best defenses in the nation:

“That final year, I took what I’d done in 2022 and just built on it even more. You see the jump in production, the crazy stats I put up. It all started the back end of the previous season, when I locked in. Guys could see I was good, was a leader, and had what it took to go to the NFL. I don’t necessarily need other people’s validation to know I had a shot, but it definitely reinforces it in your mind – you know you’re not wrong in your self belief, and are heading in the right direction. At that point, with a clear pathway, I cranked it up even further.”

That final year with the Dukes, Kromah started all 13 games, recording an incredible 60 tackles, 20.5 TFL’s and 11 sacks. It was exactly the kind of production he knew he could achieve if he put himself in a position to do so – Kromah’s hard work and willingness to make the jump had paid off:

“My coaches told me their plans that offseason, and I just attacked everything. I kept getting better and better in the Summer, in training camps. And so when the season came I’d never been as prepared. We had a great year, but every team goes through some hardship. We lost some guys on the d-line, but we just kept on going, and I felt like I stepped up to help the backups when they came in. You start to see things quicker on the field, the IQ, the knowledge kicks in. It becomes intuitive – I became a big factor on the team, and made plays I hadn’t before. It was a journey of growth, but by the end of last year I was a lot closer to the player I envisioned I would become when I started my college career. I shattered every goal I had in my mind in 2023. It really put me on the map”

Shining At The Shrine Bowl

Training at X3 in Fort Myers, Florida, Jamree Kromah is now turning his attention to the NFL Draft. That means changing focus to athletic testing, something he plans to ‘put on show’ at JMU’s pro day. Prior to that though, Kromah was able to showcase his ability at the East-West Shrine Bowl, one of the biggest All-Star games in the pre-draft process. Jamree certainly made a good impression:

“The experience was good. I began my training in Florida then went over to Texas for more than a week to be at that event. The Shrine Bowl has some prestige – to be invited means something. I was able to meet with some teams, network with some people, then take care of my business when it came to practices – probably the most important thing. The scouts weren’t even at the game at the end of the week, they were more interested in the drills. And I did well – was one of the standouts at practice according to one of the media outlets. I just kept on stacking days and represented JMU with pride – I found out there’s only four of us in history to be selected to one of these All-Star games. But I built a lot of relationships and showed what I can do.”

Coached by Richard Hightower (Bears), Bryan Bing (Colts) and Lori Locust (Titans), Kromah really appreciated having an unprecedented caliber of knowledge to learn from:

“It was a privilege being coached up by guys who have done it in the NFL. Those guys, they work on the small details, and it’s something not a lot of people can say they’ve had the benefit of. I got to pick their brains, see how the NFL operates, and how they attack the film from both games and practice. It was definitely a valuable experience, and I think I got across just how coachable and dedicated I am to this game. You never know what a good impression can do for you.”

Kromah hopes to see some of those scouts at his pro day on March 19th – and he’s keen for his time at the Shrine Bowl to get his James Madison teammates some spotlight, who might not have had the exposure their exploits deserve:

“Yeah there’s a lot of talent at JMU, and if I help get some eyes on our pro day then I’m happy to do so! But what also helped is what we achieved last year. That, more than anything I did, will bring a lot of attention to the guys on our team looking to make it to the NFL. I’m proud of being a part of that group, they helped me get better, and I helped them.”

Achieving His Dream

What seemed improbable just two years ago is now highly likely; Jamree Kromah will become a professional football player in just two months time. With that in mind, we discuss how he sees himself fitting into an NFL defense. Kromah is keen to highlight one area he considers sets him apart from other prospects:

“One thing for me is, my versatility brings value to a team. Being on the edge, they could slide me inside on a third down package and let me rush from the interior. There’s a lot of different factors you have to consider when bouncing between positions or alignments, and it doesn’t come naturally to many people. I know how to do that already. If you have a guy that can rush from the inside or outside, it’s extremely valuable.”

“Every player has their preferences for sure, and for me a four man front would definitely be beneficial. That’s what scouts are going to see on film the most, as it’s the defense I played the majority of the time. And obviously, I’ve had a lot of recent success rushing from the edge in that scheme. But being able to move around, it makes me able to roll in any front really. That’s one less thing for a coordinator to worry about, making some personnel switches if you flip to a subpackage in games. Just line me up and let me go.”

What Kromah has achieved, from a young boy mesmerized by his brother on a football field to a bonafide draft prospect in his own right, is admirable. It attests to his steely focus and serious demeanor that you feel throughout the conversation – this is an opportunity he’s had to work unbelievably hard for, and he won’t let it go no matter what. But when the moment comes, he will be with those who were there when it all started:

“I’ll be home for sure. I’ll have my family and friends around me at a little party – all the good people who’ve been there throughout my journey. It’s going to be a fun time – I’m looking forward to getting that call! And I know there’s some interest in me for sure; scouts at the Shrine Bowl asking which number I’ll have on me on draft weekend. So now they got me rehearsing how I’m going to answer that call! But day three is what we feel like will be my time – although I don’t mind if somebody calls me before that! I’ll be ready.”

That injection of humor right at the end of our conversation was surprising, a slip of the ‘all-business’ mask that Jamree Kromah put on two years ago and has refused to take off. It’s a mindset that has driven him to this point, and will make him an asset to whichever NFL franchise gives him a shot. Kromah takes this very seriously – but that’s not to say he isn’t a compassionate, understanding or grateful man. In fact, when I ask him what it would mean to be drafted, he shows a level of humility that is truly endearing:

“It would mean a lot man. A kid coming from Prince George’s County, Maryland, and all the stuff I’ve been through – if you had told me as a young boy I’d be in this position today, I would think you were lying! But not just for me, my mother – a single parent, she made some big sacrifices for me, allowed me to work towards my dream. My brothers had to sacrifice too, help me get to this moment. So for me, it’s our moment, not just mine. It’s something you cherish, that will become a family memory when you look back. But I know the work doesn’t stop there.”

Mock Draft





A huge thank you to Jamree for taking the time to talk to us. Everyone at The Touchdown wishes him well in his future career.