Overcoming Adversity Made Nunn Grow Strong

GamecockAnthem caught up with 2007 USC signee Kyle Nunn and his mom recently. In addition to news about a potential position switch this summer, read inside to find out about the biggest trial Kyle and his family have faced, and what makes Kyle the player he is today. You can also find out some of the keys to his decision to choose the Gamecocks.

Kyle is the son of Donald and Linda Schermerhorn of Sumter, SC, and Brad Nunn of Federal Way, Washington. The 6'6", 280 pound offensive lineman is working hard in the weight room in preparation for reporting this summer to South Carolina. Kyle is a "lean" 280, and is working hard to add muscle weight. When asked what his plans are between now and reporting to USC, he replied, "Bust my tail in the weight room and get as strong as I can." His father Brad is 6'8", and kept growing until he was 21, so Kyle, who just turned 18, could be expected to grow more as well.

Like most lineman at a major division one school, Kyle will most likely redshirt his first year at USC, as he works with the strength and conditioning coaches to be ready to play SEC caliber ball. Kyle played offensive tackle at Sumter High School, but had previously played center when he was younger. When visiting USC just before the spring game, Kyle was asked by the coaches if he could still play center.

"I'm planning at competing at any position I can get on the offensive line." Nunn said. "Center is the biggest chance I've got at getting playing time this year. I'm going to compete for that spot, and if that doesn't work out, I'm probably going to red shirt. It all depends on how I do in camp."

Kyle started life in Ventura, California. At the early age of five, his parents divorced, and he and his Mom moved to South Carolina. His Mom shared some insight into how uniquely sports-oriented her son has always been: "When he was a small child, he never played with toys," she said. "All he ever wanted was basketballs, footballs, baseballs - he always wanted to play sports. From the time he could walk, he would dunk a basketball into the hamper and throw his arms up in the air. He thought that was the coolest thing."

When Kyle was eight years old, his mother married Donald Schermerhorn, and the little family became a foursome when she bore Kyle a little brother, Brock. Kyle was thrilled to have a little brother.

When Brock was eight months old, their family was rocked by back-to-back bad news. Kyle's paternal grandfather died, and then a week later, Brock was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, a fast-growing cancer of the white blood cells. There are only about 4,000 new cases TOTAL in the United States each year, appearing most often in children younger than age 10. Doctors gave Brock a 0% chance of survival at the time.

Kyle's Mom Linda shared what happened next: "Kyle came to me and said, ‘I waited eight years for a brother, and now he's going to die.' I said, ‘No he's not. We‘re not going to let him die!'" Well, God intervened in their lives for Brock, and after three years of chemotherapy, he did survive. "He's ten now, and he's a perfect, healthy, normal kid."

Kyle and Brock grew close as the younger brother bravely battled the disease, with Kyle stopping by the hospital after school to visit him before going to practices. Kyle played soccer, baseball, and basketball, in addition to football, so he was "always going to some kind of practice."

"Today, they fight like you expect of brothers," says their mom, "but Kyle's very protective of him. If someone is picking on Brock, he wants to take care of it. He likes to pick up Brock from school sometimes, and the kids are like, ‘Wow, did you see Brock's brother? Don't mess with him!'"

Kyle says of the ordeal, "I think it makes you grow as a person when you go through a situation like that. It makes you stronger. It's made us closer." With eight years between them, they may not be as close as siblings who are closer in age, but both mother and son made it clear that the two boys really care about each other.

Brock likes science, math and drawing, and has played baseball and soccer. This last year he played football for the first time, playing tackle on the offensive line. This year he's looking forward to playing football with pads for the first time. "We've done a lot of charity events with the Gamecocks over the years," his Mom said. "Brock wants to play nose guard for the Gamecocks."

Coach Nix told Brock he's got a scholarship in eight years. He calls Brock "2016" (the year he'll graduate.) "He came home and said, ‘I got a scholarship before my brother!'" Linda said laughing, "I tell you what, in eight years he's going to expect to get a scholarship!"

Kyle went to a lot of cancer camps with Brock while he was sick, and his Mom said he played with kids who were blind from brain tumors. "I think Kyle has learned how lucky he really is, that his physical ability is a gift." Linda said.

"Brock has become a big Gamecock fan since Kyle committed to Carolina. When we're driving around and he sees a Clemson sticker, he says, ‘Mom, get around them, they're Clemson fans, we don't want to be around them!'"

Caption: Brothers Brock and Kyle Nunn

As far as Kyle's decision to attend USC, his mother said, "I'm very happy with the decision. Knowing he can be home in 45 minutes makes me happy too." She said the time since he committed in October has only reaffirmed the decision for him to attend Carolina. "He can get his major there," she said, "The coaching staff, every time I need something, they find the answer, they've made us feel very welcome, very comfortable. Kyle has spent a lot of time with the players up there, and he also feels very comfortable about his decision, which makes me very happy."

Kyle plans to major in Sports and Entertainment Management. He's hoping his football background can help him get a job working with a sports team, preferably in the NFL. "He would love to stay with sports, that's his main interest." Linda said.

South Carolina fans know that Kyle originally committed to Virginia Tech before ultimately choosing South Carolina. His mother shared about a trip in August that was decisive.

"(Kyle's grandfather) came to visit, and wanted to meet Coach Spurrier, even though Kyle at the time was still committed to Virginia Tech. Coach Hunt sat down with us while we were there and explained how USC‘s recruiting process determined their recruiting of certain players, including Kyle," Linda said. "The coach said to us, ‘Looking at tape, it (was) between him and (another player), and we knew he looked good on tape, but we didn't know if he was real good. And we need real good.'" Hunt's honesty with them played a major factor in their eventual decision that USC was the right choice for Kyle.

Kyle also attended most of the USC home games. The more time he spent at the games, the more he liked it at USC. The growing warmth was in contrast to what they felt at Virginia Tech, literally. The family went up to Blacksburg for the Hokies' game against Georgia Tech. "The game was at end of September, and it was freezing!" his Mom said, laughing. That was perhaps one more example of Coach Spurrier's "God was smiling on the Gamecocks," because shortly after that, Kyle Nunn became a Gamecock commitment.

Linda gave some insight into what makes Kyle unique as a person: "He's a big ol' teddy bear with a lot of drive. He comes off kinda laid back and funny, but he's very competitive and he likes to win. He likes to overcome things. He challenges himself most in sports - he always works towards being stronger, faster. He knows how to lose, but he really likes to win."

Kyle said of USC, "I know I'm in the right place. Everything is going good so far. Things are on the rise at Carolina, and I want to be a part of it." He paused, and then emphatically re-stated his case: "It's not going anywhere but up, and I want to be a part of it."

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