Orangeburg-Wilkinson head coach Tommy Brown has sent his share of players off to play college football.
From potential Pro Bowler Tim Jennings to recent Bruins standouts like Kintrell Disher and Jadar Johnson, Brown has watched each of these players hone their craft to become special talents at their respective positions. Now, Brown gets to watch as Albert Huggins, a sophomore defensive lineman standing 6-3 and 265 pounds, grows into another of those special players.
“He came in and he’s a hard-working kid,” Brown said. “That’s one of the things about leadership. You lead by example. He’s a kid that comes to work every day. He works hard. He does what we ask him to do. He has a good relationship with most of the players. Basically, he leads by example. He’s established himself as that type of person.”
Huggins caught Brown’s eye as an eighth-grader. Surprisingly, that year was the first year Huggins played football. Now that Huggins is on the Bruins’ varsity roster, he’s looking to make an impact.
“I want to be a leader on this team,” Huggins said. “Our seniors, they’re a great group. Now, I just have to be a team leader and lead the team to a championship if I can.”
Huggins, who is the only sophomore in O-W’s history to receive scholarship offers, finished this season with 64 tackles, a fumble recovery for a touchdown and four sacks and the work he did for the Bruins did not go unnoticed as he’s already received scholarship offers from South Carolina and Clemson while drawing interest from Alabama.
“It’s an honor,” Huggins said about the offers from the in-state rivals. “It’s a real honor. There are a lot of talented players that come from Clemson and USC that have gone on to the NFL. It’s a real honor to get offers from those two teams.”
The recruiting bonanza may be in its early stages at this point for Huggins, but he is well aware of what to expect and what is expected of him after talking with Johnson, who was signed to play for Clemson, and other coaches and family members.
“People tell me to keep my head on straight,” Huggins said. “They remind me to get my work done in school and everything will work out. It’s simple. It’s just simple. I’ve got to keep my head straight and listen to my parents and upperclassmen and everything will be fine.”
Getting offers from the Gamecocks and the Tigers aren’t bad pickups for Huggins, but he’s hoping to get an offer from one other Southeastern Conference school.
“Georgia is at the top right now,” Huggins said. “Then, I’d have to say Florida and then USC and Clemson.”
Huggins believes that he can be better than South Carolina defensive end Jadaveon Clowney. That’s not a bad measuring stick for Brown’s defensive prodigy and it’s a standard that that veteran coach thinks Huggins can reach any level that he aims for.
“I don’t think he has a limit,” Brown said. “He has achieved in three years what a lot of players don’t do in five to six years. I think he’s unlimited because he’s always willing to learn, he’s always willing to work, he takes advice from anybody that can help him. So, he has an open mind about getting better. He wants to get better every time he steps on the field. That’s the thing about it. When you have an attitude that you want to get better, you’re going to achieve anything.”
Still, all the hoopla about where Huggins will land is a moot point as he still has two seasons left with the Bruins. During that time, he’s hoping to help O-W bring home a championship and he’s looking to start next season.
“Teamwork,” Huggins noted when asked about what the Bruins could take away from the 2012 campaign to build on next year. “If we get teamwork and we get everybody to commit like they did last year, I think we’ll be unstoppable. We’ll be unstoppable.”