But in this remote area in the cradle of SEC country, where natives seem almost equally split in their allegiances to USC and Georgia, sits an oasis of Carolina Blue and White – the school colors of Hunter-Kinard-Tyler, a large high school with well-equipped athletic facilities.
Perhaps his former coach Barry Charley was a bit overwhelmed. While leading struggling H-K-T to a 2-8 record last year, he put together very little -- if any -- film of Brimfield and was either too busy to or unclear on how to introduce his star defensive tackle on the camp and combine circuit.
However, following the 2005 season Charley was replaced by former S.C. State strong safety Jermaine Derricott – an up and coming coach who knows his way around a football locker room after playing a season with the Baltimore Ravens and several more in the Arena League.
While touring the region, UNC defensive line coach Danny Pearman discovered Brimfield, who helped lead his team to the state basketball title as a sophomore. Pearman was immediately impressed with Brimfield’s 6-foot-5, 280-pound physique, and furthered his interest when he heard of his speed and nimble footwork.
“He’s huge and can move,” Derricott said. “The basketball helps his footwork, and when you’ve got a big kid that can move, it’s really rare. He runs a ‘5.0-40(-yard dash),’ but his 4.5-shuttle time is what’s most impressive.”
Pearman was even more impressed with Brimfield’s maturity level and personality -- outgoing and confident, yet polite.
“Will is a very coachable kid,” H-K-T basketball coach and football defensive coordinator Kelvin Coleman said. “He’s very self-motivated and he goes out on the field or on the court and tries to do exactly what the coaches tell him to do.”
“I think what the Carolina coaches liked the most about him is he’s a good kid,” added Derricott. “He’s very respectable and has good manners.”
Still, Pearman and the rest of the UNC coaching staff scratched their heads in an attempt to determine why no one had seemingly heard of Brimfield. So last week at camp, John Bunting finally got a good look at this burly three-sport athlete with arms and hands that resembled a front-end loader.
“I just went up there to camp and blew up,” Brimfield said. “I can keep you off me with these long arms. I showed what I can do. My height, size and me being able to move is going to make me a great player. And the confidence I have that no one can stop me, I think makes me a great player.”
Pearman had been adamant about getting Brimfield to camp. And when he got there, UNC assistant Kenny Browning took over.
“Coach Browning was a very good guy,” Derricott said. “He worked with Will throughout the camp and was very impressed.”
The Tar Heels wasted no time in extending Brimfield his first Division I scholarship offer. In turn, Brimfield looked over to Derricott, who accompanied him to Chapel Hill. His new coach nodded to the affirmative. Brimfield then called home to his uncle, who also gave his blessing.
“Coach Bunting really closed the deal,” Derricott said. “I could really relate to where he was coming from. Carolina is his alma mater, and he had the same passion for football that I had. He really had a big influence on our final decision.
“The coaches were really nice and really seemed like they had the kid’s best interest in mind.”
On Saturday morning, news leaked out that Brimfield committed to Carolina, and now his quiet life has become inundated with phone calls from sportswriters. In turn, expect Derricott’s phone to start ringing as well, as other college coaches hear about the star at Hunter-Kinard-Tyler.
Stay tuned for Part II coming tomorrow…
Coach Jermaine Derricott, William Brimfield, Coach Kelvin Coleman