LUMBERTON — Braylan Grice hasn’t always seen himself as a football player.
“When I was younger I really thought I was a basketball player,” said Grice, Lumberton’s sophomore quarterback.
But as an 8-year-old with the Lumberton Football Association, Grice’s view started to shift.
“That’s when people started telling me I was really good,” he said. “Then I thought football might be my best sport.”
After earning scholarship offers from UNC Charlotte and Appalachian State this summer, it’s clear that Grice is starting to see his best route for playing college sports.
As a 14-year-old freshman, he burst onto the scene last season to lock up the starting quarterback job for the Pirates en route to earning all-Southeastern Conference honors and all-county honors.
In his rookie campaign, the dual-threat quarterback threw for 1,327 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also rushed for 449 yards and five scores.
Grice sees it as a positive step in what he ultimately wants to achieve: a college scholarship.
“It makes me want to play harder so I can get even more offers,” he said. “I’m still learning.”
Though Grice showed tremendous ability in his rookie season, Lumberton coach Mike Setzer said he has no doubts that the quarterback can be even better this year.
“He’s a year older (in age) and truly a year older on the field,” Setzer said. “He’s doing some things right now that are phenomenal. It’s nice to have a guy like that at quarterback that you can depend on.”
While he’s drawn interest from Clemson, ECU, Florida, Georgia and N.C. State, Grice said he still has plenty of room to improve.
“My decision making with knowing when to throw the ball and run (has improved), and my play-calling,” he said. “I like rolling out, but I need to learn to stay in the pocket a little longer and feel things out more.”
For Tyreik McCallum, a senior receiver for the Pirates, having Grice at quarterback is a plus as he looks to cap his final season in style.
“I love Braylan,” McCallum said. “To be that age, I’ve never had a quarterback that could throw it like him. Hopefully he can help us make it a little further (in the playoffs) than we did last year and keep pushing for more wins.”
As for leading his teammates as a sophomore, Grice said he’s doing all he can to set the tone from the most important position on the field.
“I just want them to work hard in practice so we can transfer that to the games,” he said. “It’s about the competition. I like the competition and I like winning. That’s what I enjoy the most.”
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.