Asheville High coach Danny
Wilkins admired Trevor Sawyer from afar until this season. Wilkins has
even more respect for the senior tight end now that he's played almost a
full year with the Cougars.
“He was a really good
player when he came over here, and now he's even better,'' said Wilkins,
whose Asheville club is 7-0-1 and ranked fourth among the state's 3-A
Sawyer is good enough to
have earned a scholarship offer to play for the East Carolina Pirates.
The 6-foot-6, 215-pounder decided to accept that offer on Monday,
becoming the 13th member of the ECU recruiting Class of 2010.
Wilkins actually coached
against Sawyer the previous two seasons. Sawyer began his prep football
career at Wilkins' alma mater, Enka High School, a 3-A program in nearby
A two-year starter at Enka,
Sawyer began both seasons as the team's starting tight end. But injuries
forced him to shift to quarterback where he ran the spread-option
offense. Despite rotating between positions, Sawyer still earned
All-Mountain Athletic Conference honors as a junior.
But after Sawyer's junior
season, Enka's head coach Dicky Williams resigned after two years on the
job and a 4-18 record. Williams' departure, and his desire to play in a
program where he'd receive more exposure to college recruiters, led
Sawyer to transfer to Asheville last spring.
“He's lived in our
district all along,'' Wilkins said. “But he'd been out there (at Enka)
and they've had a constant carousel of coaches. So he and his family
decided to leave and play in the district where he lives instead. We've
been the beneficiary of that.
“He came over in January
of this year and we had him in the weight room and all in spring. He
worked out with us in the passing league and stuff this summer.''
Sawyer joined an Asheville
team already featuring an established offensive star in senior
quarterback Brandon Whiteside and a talented newcomer in sophomore
running back Tysean Holloway. Because the Cougars run power I-formation,
Sawyer isn't often the target of passes.
But Wilkins said Sawyer
has improved tremendously as a blocker while still managing to make 17
catches for 346 yards and four touchdowns.
“We've got some other
weapons and kids who can make plays on offense, so we don't lean on
him,'' Wilkins said. “But when we do get it to him, he sure makes things
happen. He's a nice, big target, he's got great, soft hands and he knows
what to do with the ball after he catches it.
“I know they (ECU) were
interested and wanted to see his blocking improve. We're still a power
running team, so he's been called upon to block. It's been a good
process for him and he's refined his skills as a blocker.''
It's as a receiver,
however, that Wilkins said Sawyer shows his athleticism.
“Last Friday against our
backyard neighbor, we faced a fourth-and-7 at about midfield,'' Wilkins
said. “We sprinted one way and threw back to him on a tight end screen.
He took it all the way to the 1-yard line before he was run out of
“We were playing
(Asheville) Reynolds, a strong perennial 4-A power earlier this year. He
caught a touchdown pass on a seam route where he split the corner and
the safety and raced to the end zone from 30 yards out.
“He's made plays like that
for us all year.''
East Carolina became the
first school to offer soon after he arrived at Asheville. The Pirates
had previously signed cornerback
Rakheem Morgan from Asheville.
Morgan is a red-shirt freshman this season at ECU.
Marshall and Western
Carolina also offered Sawyer scholarships. But the lure of playing for
the Pirates was too strong.
“I have no doubt he'll
eventually be a standout player for (ECU),'' Wilkins said. “East
Carolina's got a good track record under Coach (Skip) Holtz using the
tight end position. He and his family visited there last spring and
really liked the place a lot. They felt it would be the best fit for
him, and they're all excited.''