The Lowcountry has produced plenty of football talent over the years, and many local high school products are playing at the next level. On this first full Saturday of the 2017 college football season, LowcoSports.com takes a look at eight players from area schools to keep an eye on each Saturday this fall.
1. Poona Ford, Texas: The former Hilton Head Island High School star was voted a team captain for the Longhorns this season and figures to be a force on the defensive line. Ford started all 12 games at defensive tackle last season and was an honorable mention All-Big 12 pick before earning preseason All-Big 12 honors this year.
2. Dee Delaney, Miami: The first big-time college prospect to come out of Whale Branch Early College High School has taken his talents to South Beach. Delaney was a two-time All-America defensive back at The Citadel before joining “The U” as a graduate transfer for his final year of eligibility. He is widely considered the biggest potential impact transfer in the nation.
3. Tyrae Simmons, Baylor: A product of Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School, Simmons started his career at the College of the Sequoias before transferring to Baylor last year. He appeared in five games in 2016 before earning the starting role at left guard this year.
4. Shameik Blackshear, South Carolina: A lot of people are still waiting for Blackshear to blossom into the star he was expected to be coming out of Bluffton High School. He’s not listed on the Gamecocks’ depth chart this week, as he is out indefinitely with a concussion, adding another in a list of injury woes for the defensive lineman. Blackshear played in nine games last year but recorded only two tackles, but the USC coaching staff has lauded his attitude this fall and he could be a major contributor if healthy.
5. Nyles Pinckney, Clemson: Another former WBECHS standout enrolled early at Clemson and redshirted last season. He is third on the depth chart at defensive tackle and thus unlikely to make a huge impact as a freshman, but if the Tigers have any injury issues on the defensive line, he could be pressed into more action.
6. Stephen Baggett, East Carolina: Baggett plays the unsexy role of blocking tight end, so it’s usually best if you *don’t* notice him on Saturdays, but the former Beaufort High School standout will be a key player for the Pirates. After starting eight games as a junior last season, he begins the year as the starter in 2017.
7. Bryce Singleton, Florida International: It’s hard to expect too much from a true freshman, but Singleton has a chance to make a mark at FIU. The former HHIHS star only touched the ball once in the Panthers’ 61-17 loss at UCF to open the season, and the result was a 44-yard kickoff return. FIU is young at receiver, and as they see what Singleton can do with the ball in his hands, he could see more and more playing time.
8. Jestin Morrow, Marshall: The speedster from HHIHS emerged this fall to earn a starting defensive back role with the Thundering Herd as a redshirt freshman. He also was a game-changing kick returner for the Seahawks, so he could see time in that role for Marshall.
Other Players To Watch: Michael Julian, QB/P, Toledo/HHIHS; Omar Cummings, RB, S.C. State/BHS; Cam Bent, WR, Charlotte/BLHS; Tyler Hamilton, WR, Purdue/HHIHS