It's 2007, and I am watching about 50 students running around a basketball court, performing various drills and doing their best to impress.
As a first-time head coach of the Sandhills Middle School basketball team, I felt a great deal of pressure to come up with the best roster possible.
Then, a certain player caught my eye.
He was tall, broad and faster than most of the players half his size. He was an aggressive leader with his movements, could shoot from everywhere on the court.
His name? Bryon Johnson, seventh grader. He was destroying older competitors in one on one situations, and we could easily see that he'd be the focal point of our basketball team.
He didn't disappoint. He led the team in rebounds, scoring and minutes while leading the team to a winning overall record and first round playoff victory (a program first). We could have literally plugged him into any position on the court—from point guard to center—and he'd produce.
Flash forward to 2012. Byron is a 6'2", 215-pound destructive force at inside linebacker for the Swansea High School Tigers. He also plays quarterback, running back and wide receiver, but he's known as a ferocious linebacker.
He finished his junior year with 84 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and two interceptions.
He's still got stunning speed for a player his size, and his athleticism is on par with any player coming out of high school locally.
He finished the year by winning the region's top Linebacker award, according to Swansea Athletics.
Sadly, Swansea is a small town. They don't get a great deal of press, and players of his caliber often get stuck to the wayside. Byron Johnson is a gem waiting to be grabbed and South Carolina has been known to recruit players like him and coach them well.
Steve Spurrier and company should give this player a good, hard look. He's intelligent and capable of being great, with the right coaching.
Luckily, South Carolina has the right coaching. Look out for Mr. Johnson in 2013.
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