COLUMBIA – Former South Carolina safety Brandon Isaac is home.
The Blackville-Hilda graduate has returned to his alma mater, where he's now the high school's head football coach, Gamecock Central has learned.
"It's a great feeling and an honor," Isaac told Gamecock Central. "I was born and raised here, and being able to come back and give back to my community, and help these young kids kind of find out who they are, and help them grow, and be a mentor to them, it's a great privilege and an honor that I take really seriously and hopefully it will show in the coming future."
The 34-year-old Isaac, who graduated from Blackville-Hilda in 2003, replaces Corey Crosby, who spent one season at the school before returning to Bamberg-Ehrhardt - where he previously was defensive coordinator - as an assistant.
Isaac takes over the program after spending two seasons as a quality-control coach and assistant defensive backs coach with the Canadian Football League's Saskatchewan Roughriders.
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"I just want for these young men to understand that they have to be accountable for their actions and the things that they do and that they must figure out how to communicate to people to help them put themselves in a better situation," Isaac said of the goals for his program. "I just want them to know that hard work does pay off. If you put in the work and you work really hard at something, it's attainable. Those are some of the principles that I will be putting in to try to help these young men to try to come better people, not just for themselves, but also for the community."
Prior to his two years as a coach, Issac spent seven years as a linebacker in the CFL, where he collected 209 tackles, 13 sacks and two picks in stops with the Calgary Stampeders (2010-11), Toronto Argonauts (2012-13, 2015-16), Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2013) and the Roughriders (2014). He won a Grey Cup with Toronto in 2012.
Isaac played two seasons under Steve Spurrier at South Carolina from 2005-07 (he redshirted in 2006 due to injury) after a stint at Georgia Military College. Isaac, who earned a degree in criminal justice, collected 55 tackles, an interception and eight pass breakups at South Carolina.
"It was a time where I had to find myself," Issac explained. "I had so much freedom; I had so much fun. Great relationships with people and understanding how to utilize those relationships, because now that you're older, a lot of people have gone on to do things that are remarkable in a sense. And just building those relationships helped me become a better man in life."
Now that he's a head coach, Isaac says there are a "plethora of people who are willing to help" him out with his latest journey.
David Berry, who coached at B-H for 29 years and won three state championships and also coached Isaac in high school, still lives right down the road and has already met with his former player to talk shop about the job.
Isaac has also talked with former South Carolina defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix and former South Carolina linebacker Greg Wright, who was most recently head coach at Swansea, about what it takes to be a successful coach.
"Just understanding that everywhere you go is always an opportunity to network and someone is always watching and that you should always be someone who is willing to help other people," Isaac said. "And I'm trying to get these kids to understand that it's not about themselves, it's about trying to create a relationship and help other people. We were placed on this earth to be givers and doers. I want them to know that the more they're willing to help others, the more others are willing to help them."