A former football recruit of Buddy Pough's to South Carolina's football team spoke to the Orangeburg Touchdown Club on Thursday, having become both an author and a literacy advocate since his playing days for the Gamecocks.
Pough, in his 18th season as head football coach at South Carolina State, talked first about his Bulldogs' recent trip to Tampa, Florida where they lost 55-16 to the Bulls. SC State (2-1 record) has back-to-back bye weeks with no game on the schedule until October 5 at Delaware State.
"South Florida started a freshman quarterback who had played some in the Georgia Tech game; he came out and played pretty well," Pough said. "Early in the game, we slowed him down pretty good, but we turned the ball over 8 times in a way that we gave him extra opportunities.
"But, we had close to 400 yards of total offense. We had 21 first downs to their 18. We didn't feel like we were being dominated, but when we looked at the scoreboard, they were getting after us pretty good. We didn't totally feel out of place on the field against them. But, that was a tough way to lose your first game of the season."
Pough said that, with this being a 13-week season, the original plan was for SC State to only play 11 games. But, the back-to-back bye weeks were not expected, even though they might be appreciated. The Bulldogs can now rest, plan and prepare to hit the full MEAC season head on in October and November.
Pough introduced Preston Thorne, a former Summerville High and South Carolina nose tackle who Pough recruited to play for the Gamecocks and Lou Holtz in the late 1990s. Thorne has since co-written a children's book titled "Just A Chicken" with former USC teammate Langston Moore. He also works with USC's Athletes to Education program and visits schools around South Carolina along with Moore to promote literacy among youth.
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"One of the best decisions in my life was taking the opportunity to play football at the University of South Carolina," Thorne said. "Football is a really special game; it has done a lot for me in my life. It gave me the opportunity to get my education, to meet some of my best friends in life, to meet many of my business partners, associates and mentors.
"High school football is the time you are amongst your teammates, it's the purest form of the game. Friday nights still mean something in this state. Those times are always special, in part, because of communities and groups like the Orangeburg Touchdown Club supporting high school student-athletes to have the best experiences they can have to prepare them for their future."
Thorne referenced the "you are what you eat" motto, giving an acrostic for E.A.T.
"E stands for your energy and effort," he said. "You're not going to go anywhere in your life without having an abundance of energy, and your effort is something you can control.
"Your A is your attention and attitude. With everything out there now, Facebook, Twitter, everything trying to get your attention, you can't have your attention so scattered that you take it off of what matters the most - family, friends, relationships, our school and our team. On the T it's your technique. I played in the SEC and I've never been the biggest guy. So, I had to do the technical things very well. That can happen in classrooms, where you need to study more or work on what you can control."
Apart from the book they co-wrote, Thorne and Moore frequently visit South Carolina schools to spread the message of the importance of reading, writing and speaking well.
"We talk about fundamentals, and one of the fundamentals to having a successful life is not only being able to read but being willing to read," Thorne said. "Just like there are fundamentals in football, you need to have reading, writing and speaking as fundamentals in your life."
Two T&D Region high school football players of the week were recognized at Thursday's meeting. Branchville senior tailback Malachi Ford was the ATI Physical Therapy Offensive Player of the Week for Week Three, while Orangeburg Prep senior linebacker Will Summers was the ATI Physical Therapy Defensive Player of the Week for Week Three.
Guest speaker for the Thursday, Sept. 26 meeting of the Orangeburg Touchdown Club will be Charleston Southern University head football coach Autry Denson, the second all-time leading rusher in Notre Dame history and a former player for the Miami Dolphins, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions.