Coach Spotlight: K.J. Brent

In the Piedmont region near the Uwharrie mountain range, sits The Waxhaws area on the border of North and South Carolina. It seems only fitting the Tar Heels and Gamecocks were involved in a contentious recruiting war for a player from that vicinity. K.J. Brent gave his verbal in April to Spurrier's staff and hasn't faltered since.

"In his freshman year, Marvin Ridge was a brand new school," said head coach Scott Chadwick. "He started on varsity and had 12 catches on the season. As a sophomore, it was evident during summer work-outs that he was going to be special. He looked like our best wide receiver and one of the two-three players on offense.

"During our first scrimmage, on the very first series, he breaks his leg and missed the entire regular season. He did make it back for the playoffs, but wasn't close to 100-percent."

Brent came back strong after the injury. He's made 103 receptions for more than 1,800 yards and 17 touchdowns in the past two seasons at Marvin Ridge.

"At 6-4, K.J. uses his size well," said Chadwick. "He has great body control while he's in the air, does a good job of going up over the defender and taking the ball, and he has tremendous hands. In the past two seasons we went back and looked and saw he only had one dropped ball."

In a big win against a talented Ardrey Kell team featuring Drew Owens (South Carolina commitment), Brian Randolph (Tennessee commitment) and Justus Pickett, Brent had seven catches for 147 yards and three touchdowns. Later in the year against an equally talented Anson County team which featured defensive stars Brandon Ellerbe (North Carolina commitment) and highly touted Stephone Anthony at linebacker, Brent had five catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.

"He specializes in making the spectacular grab," said Chadwick. "In making his highlight reel of his best plays, there are many one-handed catches, one where he caught it with the ball beside his helmet going out of bounds.

"He's also an excellent route runner. K.J. has every quality you want in a receiver, except he's a 4.55 guy in the 40, which is good, but he's not a track star."

Although on the North Carolina side, Waxhaw is only an hour and a half drive to Columbia. Beside the offers from UNC and South Carolina, Brent was offered by Arkansas, Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, N.C. State, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. In early spring of his junior year he was ready to give his pledge to the Gamecocks.

"He said they had everything he wanted in a college, and there wasn't anything anyone else could say that would change his mind," said Chadwick on the commitment. "They had the major he was looking for, Journalism. He also liked how much they throw."

Brent is a member of his school's advisory board, an honor roll student with a 3.4 GPA, and a community captain chosen by the Carolina Panthers.

"It's an honor for players who are making a difference in their community," said Chadwick of the recognition by the NFL. "K.J.'s a tremendous kid from a great family. He does volunteer work for the homeless and works at camps with young people. We're certainly going to miss his presence here when he leaves."

Brent was named 1st team All-State by the Associated Press in all classes of North Carolina football. Recently, he participated in the 1st ever National Underclassman Combine All-World Gridiron Classic played at The Citadel's Johnson Hagood Stadium in Charleston, S.C. Brent had four catches in the game for 69 yards.

"I was talking to one of the people from the NUC, and they told me after watching him play they had no idea he was that good," said Chadwick. "I look at the rankings on the recruiting sites and think K.J.'s extremely underrated.

"I was at the Under Amour game last week, and I'd think he's as good as any of the receivers there. I think he'll have an outstanding career at South Carolina."

Brent will graduate with his class in June before he leaves to enroll at South Carolina. He also runs track at Marvin Ridge in the spring. On Friday nights, Brent wore No. 80 for the Mavericks. They finished 8-2 on the year with a first round playoff loss to Weddington, a team they had beaten just one week earlier.

K.J. Brent

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