Terrell Brigham's journey to becoming quarterback of one of the area's most prolific offenses didn't follow a straight line. Much like one of his meandering runs to the end zone, it darted this way, careened that way.
Brigham, a junior at Burke County High School, grew up loving basketball, took up football in middle school, was mainly a linebacker as recently as two years ago, broke two school receiving records last year, and this season started at quarterback for a team that averaged 27.9 points against opponents that were a combined 85-54 (.612).
By breaking seven school records against that difficult schedule in his first year as a starter -- including single-season marks for total touchdowns (33), passing yards (1,797) and completion percentage (68 percent) -- Brigham is The Augusta Chronicle Georgia Player of the Year. He's a talented runner in open space -- Brigham rushed for 1,155 yards (fifth best in school history) -- but it was the quarterback's development as a passer that helped the Bears win their first playoff game since 2000. Their 41-28 second-round playoff loss to eventual Class AAA champion Cairo represented the Syrupmakers' closest game of the postseason.
"He is about as good as it gets as a spread (offense) QB," Thomson defensive coordinator John Barnett wrote in an e-mail. "He has the speed of a (halfback), the power of a (fullback). ... Terrell was the best QB we faced all year."
"He exceeded everyone's expectations," coach Eric Parker said after the regular season.
"I surprised myself," Brigham said.
Brigham, as a sophomore, was a standout wide receiver, using his height (he's 6-foot-1 and looks taller) and speed to set school records -- which would be broken a year later by teammate Bobby Burum -- for single-season receptions and receiving yards. His future seemed clear: Make plays on offense and develop at defensive back, where he also excelled.
"Shoot, I thought (wide receiver) was going to be my position," he said.
Presented the opportunity to audition as quarterback last spring, Brigham took command of the position.
"He's a competitor, and his teammates fed into that," said Eric Luke, the team's defensive coordinator who coached Brigham in the secondary. "He's not a rah-rah guy. He's more like, 'Just hang it on me, and I'll get it done.'
"He just takes it upon himself to make plays."
He gained confidence over the summer, meeting with teammates James Cobb and Jacmarcus Jones downtown at Waynesboro City Park. It was nothing fancy -- the three juniors merely tossed the football back and forth at various degrees of fierceness -- but it went a long way toward improving Brigham's confidence, he said.
"That helped me improve, because we took turns at everything," Brigham said.
A zag here, a zig there.
Brigham will be back at quarterback next year, but he projects to play defensive back in college. As his first season at quarterback progressed, he got fewer and fewer snaps at defensive back because he was so important on offense.
Next season, as coaches continue to bloat his playbook, he likely will see even less time on defense.
Brigham clutches to a belief that this is a plan that was made for him all along.
"The coaches put me in position to (succeed)," he said. "I trust them to make me better."
Over six days, The Augusta Chronicle will announce its all-area players for fall sports:
TUESDAY: Cross Country
TODAY: Georgia football
FRIDAY: South Carolina football
SATURDAY: Independent football
SCHOOL: Burke County
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Broke seven school records in his first year starting at quarterback, including single-season passing yards (1,797) and total touchdowns (33). ... As a sophomore, caught 41 passes for 539 yards (school records at the time). ... Projects to play defensive back in college.
Q & A
Q: Besides hard work, what's the main reason you have been successful?
A: Off-season dedication.
Q: Best advice ever received?
A: Schoolwork comes first.
Q: Top priority if you were president?
A: Try to satisfy everyone, the majority of the people, even if that's not possible.
Q: Pet peeve?
A: When teammates give up when you have a chance of winning.
Q: Greatest ambition?
A: Graduate, play college football and pro football.