CON WAY, S.C.
BRYAN EDWARDS STARTED TALKING TO
college coaches before he even completed his
first week of high school.
The promising wideout received his first col-
lege scholarship offer at the age of 13 shortly
after he caught a 32-yard touchdown pass in
his first game at Conway (S.C.) High School.
Over the last three years, Edwards has done
nothing to discourage the dozens of recruiters
that have made their way to his school. He has
been productive in the Conway offense while
filling out a 6-foot- 3, 206-pound frame. Of
course, it doesn’t hurt that he’s also maintained a GPA over 3.0.
“My coaches never let me get overconfi-
dent,” Edwards said. “They always kept me
grounded and my parents did the same.”
Edwards put the recruiting process to rest
in March when he committed to the school
that first offered him a scholarship at age 13 –
“They’ve been recruiting me heavy for a
while,” Edwards said. “It was kind of crazy
at the time, but I never forgot about that.
Growing up in South Carolina, it’s the perfect
place to be.”
During his sophomore and junior seasons at
Conway, Edwards combined for 118 recep-
tions for 1,368 yards and 16 touchdowns.
He thrived in a new role as a punt returner
last year, when he took back two punts for
As someone who was admittedly “tall and
clumsy” as a child, Edwards has worked
to improve his athleticism and speed. The
three-sport athlete averaged 10 points and 7.0
rebounds per game on the Conway basketball
team last winter and clocked a 10.9-second
100-yard dash in track this spring.
“I’m always working on my explosion – stand
to start,” Edwards said. “I’ve developed into my
body, but I’ve never been content.”
WHALE BRANCH, S.C.
IT’S DIFFICULT TO IMAGINE THAT AT ONE
time 290-pound Nyles Pinckney didn’t want to
play football because the sport was too rough
for him. But back when he was 10 years old,
the now-dominant Whale Branch (S.C.) defensive tackle needed a strong push from his
father to join the local Pop Warner Panthers.
“I didn’t want to play at all,” Pinckney said.
“My first sport was soccer, and I didn’t like
football because of all the hitting. My first year
was tough; we lost every game. I didn’t like
Pinckney has grown to love the sport,
perhaps due to his ability to change the game
from the line of scrimmage. Last season, he
had nine sacks, 10 forced fumbles, 27 tackles
for a loss and three blocked field goals for a
Whale Branch team that won its region.
Pinckney started to enjoy the sport of football during middle school in Beaufort County.
Then-Beaufort High coach Jerry Hatcher occasionally watched Pinckney play, and vowed
to move him to the junior varsity team at the
end of the player’s eighth-grade season.
Instead, Hatcher was fired at Beaufort and
later accepted the head coaching position at
Whale Branch. Pinckney followed the coach,
and Hatcher plugged the athletic lineman into
the starting lineup as a freshman.
Blessed with 4.8-second speed in the
40-yard dash, Pinckney has worked to improve
his strength and technique.
“My coaches brag about my strength and
how low I am when I play,” Pinckney said.
“Most other defensive tackles don’t like to run
and make plays 15 or 20 yards downfield. I
just love everything about football, and those
are the plays I make. A lot has changed since I
FORT DORCHESTER, S.C.
JOHN SIMPSON MAY HAVE INITIALLY
regretted his decision to transfer to Fort
Dorchester High School in North Charleston,
S.C., before his junior season.
The 6-foot- 4 offensive guard walked away
from his “big fish in a small pond” status at
R.B. Stall High School to further challenge
himself with a South Carolina Class 4A
Division I state championship contender.
However, the biggest challenge came on Day
1 of preseason workouts when Simpson lined
up against his own teammate, Eurndraus Bryant, a 6-foot- 2, 361-pound defensive tackle
committed to N.C. State.
“I was big when I first came here, but our
defensive tackle was a Division I guy,” Simpson
said. “It was hard going against him at
practice. I came from a school where I wasn’t
going up against big people like that. I had to
prove I could do it.”
Simpson added strength through his work in
the weight room. He now weighs 303 pounds,
up from 250 during his freshman season.
After playing on a Stall team that won just
three games combined over his freshman
and sophomore seasons, Simpson solidified
the offensive line for a Fort Dorchester team
that went 12-3 and advanced to the Class 4A
Division l semifinals.
Simpson paved running lanes in an offense
that scored at least 29 points in nine games
last season. His decision to transfer to a
school with a higher-profile football program
paid dividends as he is now being recruited by
several Division I schools, including Clemson,
South Carolina, Florida, Alabama and Georgia.
He’s also been invited to play in the U.S. Army
All-American Bowl in January.
“I’m pretty sure I’ll be blocking a defensive
tackle similar to the one we had here,” Simp-
son said. “I’m not too nervous about it. I have
to overcome adversity like I’ve been doing.”
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