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TY’SON WILLIAMS, A SENIOR AT CREST- wood High in Sumter, S.C., raised some yebrows in March when he declined an invitation to attend junior day at the
University of South Carolina so he could partici-
pate in a statewide weight-lifting competition.
It’s all part of the master plan for Williams, who
is looking to add muscle and speed heading into
his senior season. The 5-foot- 11, 200-pound
running back proved he is on his way to achieving that goal by finishing third in his weight class.
“This is the strongest I’ve ever been in high
HILLSIDE HIGH OFFENSIVE TACKLE manuel McGirt moves like a man 100 pounds lighter, which makes ense because it wasn’t that long
school,” Williams said. “I’m looking to add a few
things to my game. I want to be more of a down-
hill runner, more explosive. I’ve been working on
agility and speed drills.”
Although Williams received his first scholar-
ship offer from N.C. State before his junior
season, he never removed his foot from the gas
pedal in his pursuit of greatness. He led Crest-
wood with 1,516 yards and 16 touchdowns last
season. He also proved to be a threat in the
ago he actually was a man 100 pounds lighter.
McGirt didn’t play football for the first time
until eighth grade. When he enrolled as a
freshman at Hillside, he was 180 pounds soaking wet. After flashing plenty of potential that
season, he quit his winter sport, basketball, to
focus all of his time on the gridiron.
“I started late, and I hadn’t really lifted
weights before high school,” McGirt said. “I had
a lot of protein shakes, and I stopped playing
McGirt, now 6-foot- 5, 270 pounds, enters the
season as one of the most promising senior of-
fensive linemen in North Carolina. Last year, he
led Hillside to the second round of the NCHSAA
“We’re trying to win a state championship,”
McGirt said. “As far as my individual goal, I want
In order to achieve his individual goal, Mc-
Girt has added 30 pounds of muscle since
the end of last season. He recommitted to the
weight room and also worked on his agility and
“I think it will help with leverage,” McGirt said.
“I’m a better athlete than everybody else on
“It’s all muscle. I’m not walking around with ex-
tra weight hanging off me.”
Although he has added bulk, McGirt says he
has not sacrificed any of the athleticism that
separates him from other offensive tackles.
the line,” McGirt said. “I can move better. I have
long arms. I have a better feel for pass protec-
tion. I think that’s what separates me.”
In March, McGirt earned “Final Five” recog-
nition at the Charlotte Nike Football Camp in
Durham, N.C. His stock continues to rise the
more exposure he gets to the sport.
“I definitely feel like it comes easy to me,
but there are other people who started playing
when they were 5 or 6,” McGirt said. “It’s still
pretty new to me, and I’m just starting to dominate. That’s what I want to keep doing.”
KELLY BRYANT KNEW HE’D HAVE TO MAKE
a difficult decision in order to play his natural posi-
tion of quarterback at a Division I college.
That’s because he drew the dreaded “athlete”
label rather than that of quarterback after his freshman and sophomore seasons at South Carolina’s
Abbeville High. Although Bryant’s leadership skills
were apparent in guiding Abbeville to back-to-back
Class A state title games in 2011 and ’ 12, his arm
strength was a bit of a mystery. Most games he attempted less than five passes.
“I was labeled an athlete before I became a true
quarterback,” Bryant said. “I could make plays
with my feet as well as my arm, but I wasn’t able to
showcase my arm as much.”
Bryant’s difficult decision came to fruition
when he transferred to Wren High before his junior
season, taking over a spread offense. Last year, he
left no doubt he can make plays through the air. He
passed for 2,805 yards and 29 touchdowns against
only nine interceptions. His completion percent-
age of 67. 7 impressed college recruiters enough
to warrant an influx of scholarship offers. Bryant
committed to in-state Clemson University in April.
“It was kind of a hard process because I wasn’t
always sure I’d have the chance to play quarterback in college,” Bryant said. “The key was
surrounding myself with a lot of positive people
throughout the process.”
One of those people was Bryant’s cousin, Mar-tavis Bryant, who started at receiver for Clemson
last season, tallying 828 receiving yards and seven
touchdowns. Another was Bryant’s personal quarterback trainer, Ramon Robinson.
“We’ve been together for three summers and
[Robinson] has done a tremendous job with me,”
Bryant said. “He’s worked on my base and my foot-
work, getting me consistent mechanically. He’s
also been a real inspiration to me off the field.”
“That was my career highlight so far,” Bryant said.
“I’ve been playing running back all my life,”
passing game, as well as on special teams.
“I can do a lot of things,” Williams said. “I
can catch the ball coming out of the backfield. I
showed in punt returns that my vision is the key.”
Williams said he was introduced to the sport
of football by his older cousins shortly after he
could walk. He grew up playing running back
and defense, although he has specialized on
the offensive side of the ball in high school.
Williams said. “It’s always something I was good
at. Football has always been there for me for
Last season, Crestwood finished tied for first
in the region and advanced to the second round
of the Class 3A playoffs. Following the season,
Crestwood head coach Keith Crolley resigned.
“I’m looking forward to a new coach, and us
fulfilling our expectations,” Williams said. “We
need to do everything we can in the weight
room and on the field, and we didn’t do much
of that last year.”