ST. MATTHEWS – Calhoun County senior defensive back Michael Brunson Jr. had a stellar senior season for the Saints, leading them on a playoff run in the SCHSL Class 2A ranks.
He then earned Defensive MVP honors for the North team in the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl (formerly known as the North-South All-Star Game) at Myrtle Beach, before being named The T&D All-Area Defensive Player of the Year.
On Wednesday, Brunson capped off his high school football career by signing a national letter of intent to play for South Carolina State University. He is among 19 players signed by the Bulldogs in the 2020 recruiting class.
Brunson made 34 tackles from his defensive back position in his senior season at Calhoun County, broke up 27 passes and was among the statewide leaders with eight interceptions.
The 6-foot, 170-pound SCHSL Class 2A All-State player had offers from several other programs, including Limestone and East Tennessee State. But, in the end, Brunson liked the history of Bulldogs football and the opportunity to play his college ball in a neighboring county.
"I just feel like SC State is the best fit for me, close to home and all," Brunson said. "I like the environment there, and I just felt like I was at home when I visited and met the players. It all just clicked, it's just a brotherhood.
"I met with some of the professors. They have a really good education program, and I plan to major in physical education and hope that it leads me to coaching. So, that really sold me on SC State too."
Brunson's play his senior campaign sold college coaches on his abilities and potential.
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"My effort showed," Brunson said. "We were losing bad in the North-South game, but I continued to do what I could to put my team in position to come back and win.
"I think I improved my mentality this season, with it being my last ride in high school. College coaches are just like my high school coaches, expecting me to continue to work and get better."
Brunson has gone to more than a few Bulldogs games through the years. He looks forward to being a part of the rich football tradition at the Orangeburg campus.
"It's just a great opportunity," he said. "And I'll be able to look up in the stands at times and see family and friends."
One person who will be glad to see Brunson get the opportunity to take the field for the Bulldogs is Calhoun County head football coach Wayne Farmer.
"Michael is a kid of high character, his work ethic is unbelievable," Farmer said. "He is the definition of a student-athlete.
"He is so humble off the field, but he plays tough on the field. He does everything that has been asked of him to this point, and now he knows it will only get harder on the college level, both mentally and physically. South Carolina State has a rich football history. He should enjoy being a part of that."
Brunson could see the field early for the Bulldogs, especially with the 4-game allotment for players who are still being considered for redshirt seasons in their freshman campaign.
"With his ball skills and his speed, being a 10.6/10.7 guy in the 100 (yard dash, you can't teach that speed," Farmer said. "He will grow as the game grows. In four years, he will be a different guy.
"He went from playing zone to man coverage, and he has learned to play with his back to the ball and still make the play. He knows how to invite the ball in the air and just work his technique in coverage."
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