If Dave Doeren is looking to recent history for hope that he can pry T.J. Brunson away from the South Carolina Gamecocks then he will probably be disappointed. He might tell you that the improbable is not the same thing as the impossible.
Clemson and South Carolina scoop up a huge helping of home grown talent every year. That local success is one of the main reasons behind the rise of both programs. Even in years when they struggle on the field their coaches can usually feel good about the future because it is common to see both schools rank near the top of the recruiting rankings.
T.J. Brunson (6-1, 220) is going to be tough for NC State or any school other than South Carolina to pull out of his state. Not only does Brunson have an offer from the Gamecocks but he is from Columbia. In other words he is immersed in Gamecock culture and surrounded by South Carolina fanatics. Although there is not much in the way of history to suggest that NC State has a good chance at beating out Steve Spurrier one does not have to go back too far to see it is a possibility. The Wolfpack have one commitment from a South Carolina player that will graduate three semesters from now. James Valdez (5-11, 189) attends Orangeburg Wilkinson and had an offer from the Gamecocks too.
Brunson would tell you that there are people that would like to see him stay home for college. That will be a factor at some level. It will either be a big factor or a small one but it will not be the only thing he considers. His brother Markus was a student at Louisville so he would not be the first family member to leave the state for college.
After Brunson had almost 140 tackles at Richland Northeast schools started taking more notice than before. It took South Carolina a while to come around but the ‘Cocks offered him eventually. Brunson has been to South Carolina in the past but it may give coaches elsewhere some hope to know that he grew up a Clemson fan. They have not offered yet.
“I’ve been to South Carolina and it really wasn’t what I expected. That’s in a good way because I live right here in Columbia. I guess because I grew up a Clemson fan I didn’t really think about it like that but when I visited I liked it. I think the system is nice. I could fit into it very easily. The coaching staff is very experienced. I like the athletic center and all the things they have up there.”
Brunson has been to NC State for a visit in the past too.
“I thought the same thing about the coaches at NC State. It was the same thing really. They did stuff a little bit differently with how their practice was set up but I felt the same way. I liked their coaches just like I liked South Carolina’s. The only thing is I didn’t get to really see much of the actual campus when I was up there so maybe I’ll get to see that some other time.”
NC State and South Carolina both like Brunson because he can play the ‘WILL’ linebacker position or he can play inside. Brunson was at NC State for a camp so his time at the school was dominated by a structured environment that was more about the coaches doing field research than showcasing the different parts of the school. There was some time to let the top players see the best the program has to offer.
Clemson has had Brunson on watch and linebacker coach Brent Venables has told him to be patient. He would like for Brunson to wait on them while they take their own time.
Brunson could contend to be the top tackler in South Carolina this year. His own improvement from his sophomore to junior year coupled with Richlands Northeast’s move down a division because of declining attendance at the school means that Brunson was one of the stars of the game every Friday night.