His grandfather starred for Clemson. But this Gamecock was never a Tigers fan

South Carolina’s Bryan Edwards on ‘that’ incredible one-handed catch

South Carolina football junior wide receiver Bryan Edwards describes what he was thinking and how he made an impressive one-handed touchdown grab against Ole Miss that blew up on social media.
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South Carolina football junior wide receiver Bryan Edwards describes what he was thinking and how he made an impressive one-handed touchdown grab against Ole Miss that blew up on social media.

Growing up in Conway, South Carolina, Bryan Edwards had plenty of colleges competing for his fandom.

There was the hometown Coastal Carolina. A few hours north were North Carolina, North Carolina State and Duke, and of course, the in-state powers of South Carolina and Clemson loomed.

Naturally, he rooted for Georgia.

For many South Carolina natives on the Gamecocks roster, this week’s Palmetto Bowl with the Tigers has an especially powerful hold on their imaginations, but the junior wide receiver doesn’t have much in the way of personal vendettas, feelings or motivation.

“I was a Georgia fan growing up, but I experienced some Clemson games, experienced a couple South Carolina games. I never really leaned either way though,” Edwards said of his emotions in high school.

South Carolina football players Jake Bentley, Zack Bailey, Bryan Edwards, A.J. Turner and Jacob August talk about how they hope to succeed when the Gamecocks face Clemson's defensive line, considered one of the best in recent history.

USC fans, however, should probably be glad Edwards was only neutral on the state’s biggest rivalry as a youngster, seeing as his grandfather, Eddie Geathers, was a star defensive back for Clemson from 1977 to 1980.

Geathers’ name still dots Clemson’s record book — he is tied for seventh in program history in career interceptions and takeaways, and led his team in 1979 in passes defended and pass breakups and in 1980 in picks.

What’s more, Edwards’ sister went to Clemson. But when it comes to the Gamecock-Tiger rivalry, he says he was pretty ambivalent when he was younger.

“My granddad played defensive back at Clemson, so that’s pretty much my only tie there. Being from South Carolina, you’re always going to know some Clemson fans, some Carolina fans,” he said diplomatically.

It helped that both schools offered him when he was just 13 years old. Eventually, he committed to South Carolina in the spring of his junior year, as Steve Spurrier and his staff overcame an early lead for Clemson.

That fall, he decommitted after Spurrier retired, and Clemson was once again pursuing him and in good position.

But the hire of Will Muschamp changed things — Muschamp had recruited Edwards when he was at Florida, and Edwards had expressed interest in the Gators at the time.

When Muschamp visited him in December 2015, shortly after his hire, it helped to seal the deal — though not without a nervous moment for Muschamp, who was getting his first taste of the Clemson-USC rivalry.

“It was the first day of contact, I saw (Edwards) and T.J. Brunson,” Muschamp recalled. “I went into Bryan’s home that night. John and Michelle, his parents, are great, and we had a wonderful visit until this guy walked into the room. I believe it was his (grandfather), who actually played at Clemson, had an orange jacket on. I thought, ‘This isn’t going well,’ but we stayed the course, and he actually was great and we had a really good visit.”

A little more than a week after that visit, Edwards re-committed to the Gamecocks, setting the stage for a career in which he has been named a Freshman All-American, offensive MVP of the team and his place now as Carolina’s leading receiver by yards.

But Edwards still has yet to beat Clemson, and he said he’s sure to get some grief about that from Geathers in the run-up to Saturday.

“I hear from him every week, but especially this week, I’ll definitely hear from him,” Edwards said. “He always wants the best for me, but he’ll tease me a little bit. Nothing major.”

The University of South Carolina prepares for its football game with Clemson with the annual Tiger Burn pep rally in Columbia, SC.