Battery Creek junior Tremel Kline hasn't been merely good for the Dolphins, he's been downright unstoppable. Among Class AAAA wide receivers in the state of South Carolina, nobody has more receptions. Only Byrnes receiver Bradley Robinson -- who will be squaring off against Kline on Friday night when Battery Creek and No. 2 Byrnes square off in the second round of the Class AAAA Division II playoffs -- has more yards É just 24 more.
"He's just got all the tools," said Battery Creek receivers coach Rodney Smith. "He's got great instincts and he's a great blocker and he makes the big plays. Everybody else plays at one speed and he plays at his own. He's just flat-out the best football player on the field at any time."
Kline is a natural for the position, his coaches say. He has the build, speed, athleticism and natural talent this is off the charts.
"He is just a tremendous athlete and he's just going to get better," said Dolphin head coach Fred Hamilton. "I know this -- I wouldn't trade him for any receiver in the state of South Carolina. No one."
It's amazing to think Kline played his first game as a wide receiver just two years ago. Prior to that he split time at linebacker and tight end. As a freshman in high school, though, he was offered a chance to play wide receiver and hasn't looked back since.
"Oh no, I love being wide receiver," Kline said. "It's good because I'm just tall enough to be a receiver and I'm an athlete. I'm not too fast, but I'm talented."
Kline had a standout year with the junior varsity team, but nobody was prepared when, as a member of the varsity the next season, he came down with a game-winning catch against Summerville in what Summerville coach John McKissick called one of the best catches he's ever seen.
Ask Kline what moment sticks out in his head from all the years he's played football and he won't hesitate.
"Last year versus Summerville, that catch," Kline said. "I don't know how I did it, but it was in my hand when I got up. I rolled over and I took it off his back. I didn't know I had it until I rolled over on my back."
Last year, what amazed people about him was his ability to adjust his body to the ball as both were in the air, his concentration and his hands a delight to watch. This season, though, it's been Kline's ability to run after the catch that has gotten his coach's attention.
"He looks like they've got him hemmed in and he's going down," Hamilton said. "The next thing I know, somehow he's got his body up and he's going through the seam. They'll hit him flush and he rolls out of it.
"He's a lot stronger than you think he is. I found out how strong he was last year when our starting offensive tackle grabbed him in the gym one day and the next thing I knew, he was on the ground and Tremel was on top of him. I said, 'Man, I've never seen a receiver throw an offensive tackle down.' The crazy thing about that was the offensive tackle was on the wrestling team."
Only one thing goes through Kline's mind after he catches the ball.
"After I catch a ball É touchdown," he said. "After I catch the ball, I'm trying to get some extra yards."
Only four football players in the state at any level have more than 1,000 yards receiving. One plays SCISA eight-man football, one is in Class AAA, one is the aforementioned Robinson. Kline is the fourth. His ability to get yards after the catch has helped make his quarterback, senior Collin Drafts, third in the state in passing yards.
"I'd take him over anybody in the state," Drafts said. "He's just a junior, probably about six-foot three, gets by people and makes moves -- he's a playmaker."
Having someone like Kline keeps the defenses honest, Hamilton said. It allows the offense to do a lot of things just because of the implied threat that Kline and Drafts could hook up for a 70-yard pass play down the sidelines at any moment.
"First of all, he's going to stretch the defense tremendously. He's a vertical threat anytime you snap the football," Hamilton said. "Once he goes two steps down the field -- we always laugh about it because I don't know what he runs in the 40, but if he needs to run a 4.5, he seems to run a 4.5. If he needs to run a 4.4, he can do that. If he needs to run a 4.8, he'll do that. Whatever he needs to run, he's fast enough to run it. He's just so athletic. He can catch a two-yard route and turn it into 40 yards."
"If you want to stick the guy out there on the track in shorts, he won't be the fastest guy out there," Smith said. "But you put pads on him and put him out on the field and he can outrun everybody. I don't think I've seen him get caught this year."
For the receiver, it's all about positive mental attitude. His cockiness, he feels, gives him an edge.
"Some plays they have me covered, but some other plays I guess they get tired, so I just find a gap," Kline said. "If I run out 50 times, I'll give them 10 they got me covered. The rest of the time, they can't get me."
And that, said Kline, is because his philosophy is a simple one.
"Run hard every route," Kline said. "If I do that, nobody can stop me."
With more than 200 yards against Summerville this year, two touchdowns against Laurens and 174 yards on only five catches against Fort Dorchester, it doesn't look like anyone's done it yet.
Story Courtesy of The Beaufort Gazette
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