White Knoll tight end Alex Brown was a bit astonished to be selected to the 76th Annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas after recording one catch all year.

But, it’s not necessarily the number of grabs that helped him earn the roster spot. The 6-foot-3, 265-pounder also was taken for his blocking ability, which he says is just fine.

“I caught one this year, but I guess that doesn’t really count,” Brown said jokingly. “The offense we ran, we don’t throw. We ran the double wing. We’re lucky to throw one pass a game. They brought me here for my blocking, I guess. I’m known as a physical tight end, and so it’s definitely cool that I still not catch many passes and make it to the Shrine Bowl.”

It’s not that Brown can’t catch. South Carolina’s coaches are fully aware of his abilities. Brown said he’s ready to go if called upon in Saturday’s game against North Carolina.

“I can still catch at the Shrine Bowl combine and here and everything,” he said. “Just because they didn’t throw me a pass doesn’t mean I can’t catch a pass.”

Brown doesn’t mind blocking for his teammates and allowing them to gain the spotlight. He’ll exhibit the same unselfishness for his country at the Naval Academy next year.

Brown said he’s excited about the opportunity to continue playing football and defend the nation’s freedom.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s a great honor to be selected to do that. It’s a very rigorous selection process. What better way to serve a country than playing football and being in the Navy afterwards. Where else am I going to get a $400,000 education for free, get to serve my country and be in a locker room full of guys who are entirely selfless than there?”

Getting their legs

Sandlappers running backs Harold Atkinson (Carolina Forest), Romelo Doctor (Ashley Ridge) and Darius Hammond (Strom Thurmond) have steadily improved through each practice. South Carolina coach Ray Stackley said he’s encouraged by what the group has shown so far, as well as a couple of others lining up at the position.

“We feel real good,” he said. “We’ve involved Tramel Terry and Akia Booker in the run game, as well. Both of them are strong game. Our running backs can also make you miss. They don’t need but a crack. They are not what I call fast burners. They are all 195 and 200 pounds and run with a low center of gravity and can move the chains.”

Tough task for O-line

Offensive linemen Johnathan Boring (Lexington), Keiton Burgess (Crestwood), Justin Day (South Aiken), Bryce King (Dillon), Joseph Park (Dillon), Isaiah Pinson (Byrnes), Trahjare Reeder (Newberry) and Alex Simms (South Pointe) will have their hands full against the Tarheels’ talented defensive front. Stackley said the group would have to be on its toes if his team hopes to win.

“We’ve got a ways to go,” he said. “Their defensive front is supposed to be special. They are big and fast and highly acclaimed. That will be our challenge. We’ll continue to work. We know we can’t line up and run right at them. We’ve got to mix it up.”

Quarterback battle

Union County’s Keiston Smith and Hilton Head’s Michael Julian are in a tight competition for the starting nod on Saturday.

Stackley said Julian appeared a bit ahead of Smith early on but the gap narrowed through Tuesday’s two-a-days.

“Michael Julian looks really good,” he said. “Keiston recently played and is a little tired, but Monday afternoon and this morning he really stepped it up and threw some really strong balls. He’s got a strong arm. Both of them do.”