Some colleges are just a good fit for a high school senior. Then, there are those that are like an old well-worn pair of sneakers which are so comfortable to wear that you just can’t throw away.
Both scenarios came into play for Bryce Jeffcoat when the former Camden High quarterback decided to cast his lot and call Erskine College his collegiate home. When the three-sport standout signed to play football with the Flying Fleet --- which is restarting the program following a 68-year absence ---, he became the third Bulldog football player to do so. Jeffcoat will join his center, Jason Harris, and tailback, Shymeik Corbett, in Due West.
“It is going to be comfortable taking snaps from the same person I’ve been taking snaps from since middle school and handing the ball off to someone I’ve been handing the ball off to since middle school, too. It’s going to be like second nature,” Jeffcoat said after signing his National Letter of Intent during a ceremony held inside the CHS library.
Knowing that the Flying Fleet will not play their first game until 2020 and understanding that next fall will be devoted to practices and intrasquad scrimmages, Jeffcoat said his decision to join Shap Boyd’s fledgling program and attend Erskine was a relatively simple decision.
“Once I took my visit up there, it wasn’t too tough,” Jeffcoat said. “I liked the idea that they had and I believe in what they are trying to do.”
Jeffcoat started his junior campaign at Camden as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback. By season’s end, he found himself playing wide receiver. A new offensive scheme returned Jeffcoat under center in 2018 and the six-foot, 180-pounder thrived in the new system.
In a turnabout senior season, Jeffcoat completed 111 of his 176 passes for 1,744 yards with 19 touchdown tosses including a 78-yard connection with Corbett for a touchdown against Hartsville. On the ground, he tucked the ball away 58 times, gaining 178 yards with one trip into the end zone on a 28-yard scoring scamper against Fort Mill.
Brian Rimpf, who enters his third year at the Bulldog helm, said Jeffcoat’s best days are ahead of him.
“Bryce is probably the perfect guy for what Erskine is doing. Probably having another year of him developing is going to help him out, especially physically,” he said. “We needed him to play quarterback last season. He was good at it and did the job well. He’s athletic enough, when you watch him on the basketball court, running the bases or, playing centerfield, you can see the athleticism. He’s a fast kid, too.
“Almost every year he has been here at Camden, he has been playing three sports. He was active every part of the season so it was really hard to get him in the weight room, a ton. It was hard to put weight on him because he was so active. He’ll still be active going to Erskine, but they’ll have their hands on him more. He should be able to build himself physically which will help everything else.”
Jeffcoat, who said he moved to receiver as a junior to get more playing time, expects to stay at quarterback at Erskine since he was recruited at that position following a season in which he was selected to play in the inaugural Columbia Metro Bowl. Having had playing experience at two positions, said both Jeffcoat and Rimpf, is never a bad thing when it comes to having more than one option in which to get on the playing field in college.
“Bryce’s athleticism will help him to play multiple positions,” said Rimpf, a former NFL lineman with the Baltimore Ravens. “He’s going in as a quarterback, but sometimes, if there are multiple quarterbacks, they choose the next guy and get him on the field somewhere.
“Bryce has all the intangibles that you need as far as being a quarterback goes; the mental part of the game, the leadership part of the game. He did a really good job for us. He was one of those seniors in the backfield who really helped our offense to be as successful as it was last year.”
“I made a big transition, improvement-wise, from my junior to my senior year,” Jeffcoat said of re-earning his starting job at quarterback. “We struggled through my junior year. Having had a lot of success last year helped tremendously.”
Jeffcoat’s strengths are that he can move around and make plays outside the pocket. He said the biggest part of his game which he needs to continue working on is “sitting inside the pocket and making deep throws from the pocket,” as he eases into the spread set which the Flying Fleet plan to employ.
Jeffcoat and his future teammates will all have plenty of time to polish up their skills for the college game given 2019 will be all practice as Boyd and his staff implement their system and evaluate their players at each position. Jeffcoat, who has played basketball and baseball at CHS, said he has no problems having next fall off.
“Not playing next year will definitely be a little different. I look forward to getting there,” he said. “We get to lift and we get to practice so, I’m taking that whole year to perfect what we’re going to do as we go into the (2020) season.”
“That extra year of Erskine not playing football next season is going to be like a redshirt season for Bryce,” Rimpf said. “There won’t be that pressure to get things done right away. I think that one year of development will really help him out.”
Jeffcoat, the son of former Camden High and USC women’s basketball guard Natalie Jeffcoat, and former USC punter Derwin Jeffcoat, said he decided to pursue playing football in college this past summer during workouts for Camden’s 2018 season.
“I started hearing from some people, recruiting-wise, and I said that this is something that I can definitely keep on doing because I love it. I love the game,” he said.
The Flying Fleet staff was among those suitors seeking out Jeffcoat’s services. In the end, Erskine had too much going for it for Bryce Jeffcoat not to pull the trigger.
“I really look forward to going to Erskine and being part of the first class and building a foundation there,” he said. “I think building a program is something that’s going to be really fun. I’m looking forward to it.”