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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Thursday, September 20, 2012

By Sammy Batten

Brunson lives up to Lake City tradition


By Sammy Batten
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Football talent, next to tobacco, is the leading crop in the South Carolina town of Lake City.

Located just south of Florence and populated by about 7,000 residents, Lake City's football honor roll includes former NFL All-Pro defensive end Derrick Burgess, ex-NFL receiver Derrick Faison, Clemson linebacker alum Scotty Cooper and current South Carolina running back Shon Carson. All were born in Lake City and all but Burgess played for Lake City High School.

Devaris Brunson grew up with dreams of becoming part of that Lake City tradition, and he's already done so in two very important ways.

First, he became a school record holder as a junior linebacker in 2011 by setting a single-season mark for tackles with 172. Second, Brunson has secured an opportunity to play at the major college level by accepting a scholarship offer from East Carolina back in late June.

"Everybody grows up here playing football,'' Brunson said. "On Friday nights, everybody in town shows up at the Lake City games. I was just like everybody else. I came to games every Friday night, and the next day I'd be out in the back yard with my friends pretending to play for Lake City. You dream about following guys like Scotty Cooper and Shon Carson, and filling their shoes.''

Brunson didn't achieve that goal over night. He was one of the smaller kids in his neighborhood and wasn't a natural athlete.

But his love for the game helped Brunson develop a work ethic that continues today. His hard work and a growth spurt as he hit middle school carried Brunson to the next level.

"I sort of grew into the game,'' Brunson said. "I knew I wasn't the biggest or best player when I started. But I just kept working hard because I love playing the game so much. Even now, I try to get better every time I'm on the field.''

The passion paid off when Brunson made the Lake City varsity and became a starting linebacker as a freshman.

"I thought I'd be playing on the JVs, so it was a surprise,'' Brunson said. "But the coaches came up to me in practice one day and said, 'You've been working hard and deserve to come up on the next level and play varsity.'

"I was still learning and catching onto things. But I wound up doing pretty well.''

The 6-foot, 202-pounder, who has been timed at 4.47 seconds in the 40-yard dash, blossomed into a star last season when, in addition to recording a school-record number of tackles, he had 18 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. Brunson also forced eight fumbles and had an interception.

The performance earned Brunson a spot on the Florence Morning News All-Pee Dee team and a berth on WPDE's All-Zone squad. He was also named all state by

During the winter months, Brunson also made a name for himself on the wrestling mat. Competing in the 189-pound weight class, he advanced all the way to state championship competition.

Brunson has gotten off to a slow start on the football field this season, collecting just 14 tackles through Lake City's first three games. But that hasn't kept the college recruiters away.

Although he remains committed to East Carolina, Brunson recently took an unofficial visit to N.C. State. The Wolfpack is the only other major college program to have extended a scholarship offer.

"East Carolina has my commitment at the moment,'' Brunson said. "It would take a lot for me to switch my commitment. But I'm still open to other schools.''

If Brunson sticks with the Pirates, they'll be getting a fast, aggressive outside linebacker who makes plays all over the field.

"I have good speed and I like contact,'' Brunson said. "But I also play smart. I take what my coaches tell me and apply it when I'm on the football field. I think that helps me because I'm usually a step ahead when the play starts.''

Brunson believes he could contribute quickly, if he winds up at ECU.

"I think I could help them out pretty early,'' Brunson said. "Playing early is something that's important to me. I want to make an impact very quickly.''

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09/20/2012 02:17:01 AM


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