New prospects, but same story behind them

SENECA — You may not know the names now, but you soon will.

Chances are even the most diehard recruiting fans probably have never heard for defensive lineman Jalen Hunter or center Casey Baldwin, but odds are you will by this time next year.

These two rising juniors from Seneca High School in Seneca, S.C., have been touted by their head coach as serious Division 1-A prospects and the Bobcats' head coach is a guy that kind of knows a thing or two about who is and who isn't a major college prospect.

Ron Duncan, who is about to enter his second season at Seneca, has coached two of the best prospects to come from a Class A high school in the last 10 years in the state of South Carolina. Clemson's Ricky Sapp was a USA Today High School All-American at Bamberg-Ehrhardt where he was listed as the No. 17 prospect in the country by Collegefootballnews.com, while Da'Quan Bowers was a Scout.com All-American and was the No. 2 prospect in the country overall.

Sapp is about to begin his fourth season for the Clemson Tigers at defensive end where he has started 23 games, while Bowers started six games at defensive end as a true freshman last year. Both are expected to be starters again this season.

Other than those two, Bamberg had several other kids go one to play Division 1-A as well as I-AA and Division II college football during the Duncan era.

"We had a bunch of kids sign college scholarships there, but it's a process," Duncan said. "This all starts when they're freshmen. They're grade and core classes start there and it is a long, long process.

"But it is not too late for any of our kids and there are plenty of opportunities out there with colleges, junior colleges, Division II, Division III or whatever for them to continue their education, and that's the most important thing we have to keep in perspective.

"They're not just going to play college football — they're getting an education as well."

Though he can't fully take credit for rising senior T.J. Boyd, younger brother to Clemson signee Tajh Boyd, Duncan already has a Division I prospect who is getting looks from Clemson, N.C. State, East Carolina and Buffalo. Just recently, all of those schools visited Seneca to evaluate the 5-foot-11, 185-pound safety.

College scouts also got an eye on T.J. Boyd's defensive backfield teammate — unknown cornerback Austin Hunter. A 6-foot-1, 180-pound rising senior, Hunter runs the 40 in 4.45 speed, according to Duncan, and is the big and tall type corner a lot of schools are going after these days.

"He transferred in from Carolina Forest last year. He was raw, but he improved as the year went along and he really began to grasp our defense," Duncan said. "I think he may be one to keep an eye on and maybe as someone that comes on the radar here."

As for Boyd, Duncan has been pleased with what he is seeing from the new transfer in spring practice so far.

"T.J. is a good athlete," Duncan said. "I think he benched press 275 pounds the other day. He bends well and he has tested fairly well at some of these combines. He is a strong kid."

Also getting stronger is Jalen Hunter at defensive tackle and Baldwin, the Bobcats center. Hunter stands 6-foot-3, 290 pounds, while Baldwin is 6-foot-3, 270 pounds.

"We are just getting started with our program," Duncan said. "A lot of kids here were raw last year and weren't very strong physically. They have gotten stronger and their feet have gotten better so we are all anxious to see how it turns out.

"I tell are kids all the time that individual glory and success will come with team success. All of our teams at Bamberg put the team first and worked extremely hard to help us win and in return we became successful as a program fairly quickly. In turn, it helped them individually become successful and draw attention."

Duncan's teams went 50-12 in his five seasons at Bamberg and last year after a 0-5 start against one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the state, he turned the Bobcats around as they finished third in Western AAA and advanced to the Class AAA State Playoffs.

"We will develop (what we had at Bamberg) here," he said. "There is talent and potential here and we will get that done. It's just going to take some time and hopefully this year we will be improved and it will help our kids get other opportunities after they leave here."

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