THIS WEEK'S FEATURED STORIES
Orange Bowl: Two former Warriors will meet in Miami
By Roger Greene
While playing football at Waccamaw High, both Jerome Maybank and Alex Burdette had their minds set on continuing their careers at the next level. It’s a safe bet that neither expected to be part of the same bowl game, much less the Discover Orange Bowl.
Yet both will be at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on Jan. 4 when Maybank’s Clemson Tigers (10-3) face Burdette’s West Virginia Mountaineers (9-3) in one of the Bowl Championship Series’ showcase events.
“It’s pretty crazy to think about two kids from Waccamaw being in a BCS bowl game,” Burdette said. “I don’t think anyone could have imagined that happening. I haven’t been able to talk to Jerome that much about it yet, but I’m sure he’s as excited as I am. Hopefully, I’ll be able to catch up with him when we’re home over Christmas break.”
Waccamaw football coach Tyronne Davis said the contest has captured the interest of current WHS players and has created plenty of dialog at the school. Though a Clemson alum and former Tiger player, Davis said he will be pulling for both teams in the game.
“I’d love to be able to get down there myself,” Davis said. “Being able to go to a bowl game is special for college players and I’m glad Jerome and Alex will have this experience. Our kids are excited for them as well. There has been a lot of talk about the game and those guys being there. It’s a positive thing for our program.”
Both Burdette and Maybank have spent their freshman years getting acclimated to the college game and environment. An invited walk-on with the Mountaineers, Burdette, a defensive back, has not dressed out for any games, but has had an active role with the scout team, on defense and special teams, during practice. An offensive lineman, Maybank was redshirted this year and unable to participate in any Clemson games.
Team rules prohibit Maybank from making any comments to the media until spring practice this coming year, but he has remained in contact with many in the Waccamaw football family.
“I got to see Jerome and he looked great,” Davis said. “I think the redshirt year has benefitted him. It gives a player time to get ready for the next season and Jerome has taken advantage of that.”
Being part of WVU’s program was a long time aspiration for Burdette, who was born in West Virginia and lived there for the first 10 years of his life before moving to South Carolina. Both his father, Robert – a teacher and assistant football coach at WHS – and mother, Betty, are mountain state natives as are the majority of his extended family.
“The first day of practice was overwhelming,” Burdette said. “At first, you can’t believe you’re there. Then, you get your playbook and you know it’s time to get serious. Mine said ‘Burdette-Defense’ and it’s about as thick as War and Peace. I’ve learned more about playing safety this year than I ever thought was possible.”
Were he to write a script for his freshman year, Burdette said he would have a difficult time coming up with something better than the way things have played out.
“I’ve been a WVU fan my whole life, so I was familiar with the guys on the team,” he said. “But to actually be here and be able to hang out with them and be part of the team has been unbelievable.”
Davis says Burdette and Maybank have provided an example for other Waccamaw players to follow.
“Both Alex and Jerome had a goal of playing college football,” Davis said. “They did everything it took to make that happen and create opportunities for themselves. It shows what happens when you are dedicated and committed to doing something. They’re being rewarded for the hard work they have put in.”