The secret was well kept, but few onlookers were surprised when Lexington wide receiver Shaq Roland was named South Carolina's Mr. Football on Friday night at Myrtle Beach High School.
Rowland, 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, was chosen from a field that included Chesnee linebacker Nathanael Moore; Gaffney wide receiver Quinshad Davis; Greer quarterback Reese Hannon and Blue Ridge quarterback Caleb Rowe.
Rowland has committed to USC and is the fourth straight Gamecocks recruit to win the award. The run stated in 2008, when South Pointe's Stephon Gilmore beat out the field. Byrnes' Marcus Lattimore won the award in 2009, and South Pointe's Jadeveon Clowney last year.
"Mr. Football is a great honor for any player who wins it," Roland said. "I always wanted to go to South Carolina since I was in the ninth grade. I want to stay home. I looked at Florida, Georgia and Alabama, but South Carolina was where I needed to be.
"I'm looking forward to playing with Gilmore, Lattimore and Clowney, the three previous winners of this award. South Carolina has been on the rise and I want to be a part of it. I hope I can help them win a conference championship and even a national championship."
Roland led the Wildcats to an undefeated regular season with 79 catches for 1,546 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also ran for 305 yards and 10 TDs.
Recruiting analyst Tom Leming's review of Roland says:
"The state's top athlete and top prospect, he shows All-American ability at both WR and DB. He can fly with great body control. He ranks 20th overall and Shaq has what it takes to become an All-American."
Roland will report to Shrine Bowl practice today in Spartanburg to prepare for next Saturday's game. He will play in the Under Armour All-America Game in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 5.
He is also a standout basketball player and has reportedly hinted he might try both sports at USC.
"I'm a wide receiver just like Alshon Jeffrey. Either way he goes, I want to play with him because he can teach me a lot, but if he leaves and goes to the pros, then I hope to fill in for him and do a good job for my team."