Batesburg-Leesville two-way player Paul McKiever has started to gain momentum in recruiting circles since the end of his junior season.
The burly defensive and offensive lineman has had a quiet summer in regards to visits, but he expects that to pick up if he can mirror his junior season – when the Panthers claimed the Class 2A, Division II state championship.
McKiever has stood out to new Batesburg-Leesville coach Perry Woolbright.
“He’s explosive on both sides of the ball,” Woolbright said. “He’s not just a defensive player; he’s an offensive player, too. He’s a leader out on the field just because he makes plays when a play needs to be made. He even helps on special teams. A lot of those big guys don’t move like he does. He could drop off and play outside linebacker if we need him.”
McKiever is 6-foot-4, 266 pounds and rarely will leave the field this season. He starts at offensive tackle and has been a stalwart on the defensive line since his sophomore season. Last year, he registered 105 tackles, four forced fumbles, one interception, five pass breakups and two safeties. He believes he will get a look on the defensive side of the ball at the next level.
“My first love is defense,” McKiever said. “I don’t mind offense, but I want to give defense a try first in college.”
Despite the coaching change from Jerry Brown to Woolbright, McKiever remembers the things he learned under the legendary Brown.
“Now that coach Brown is gone, it’s different in the locker room. But now I’m trying to do what he told me,” McKiever said. “When he left, he told me I was going to have to lead this team and ‘stay on them like I stayed on you.’ He made the game so easy for me. He showed me a lot, and I can tell a lot just from what he’s taught me.”
The leadership is something Woolbright noticed early on.
“The guys on the team respect him,” he said. “One of the first things we talked to him about was setting the tone. He’s gone hard in the weight room and conditioning this summer, and I think everybody has followed his lead.”
Woolbright was thankful to get a player of McKiever’s caliber in his first season after a stint at North Myrtle Beach.
“We came into a program that had great players and great coaches already in place,” Woolbright said. “It’s not always X’s and O’s, it’s the Jimmy’s and Joe’s – and Paul and some of the guys around him make our job a little easier.”
Playing both ways has taken a toll on McKiever, but it will continue for one final season until he focuses on one side of the ball in college. Woolbright hopes to see McKiever
“The biggest thing is he has to learn to play every play,” Woolbright sad. “That’s not just him. A lot of the bigger guys can go three-quarters speed and still make the play, but at the next level, he won’t be able to get away with that. When he gets that motor to another level and he learns to play every play, he will be tough to handle. It’s maybe a little tougher on him because he has to play both ways. He does a great job at it though.”
The recruiting process is far from finished.
McKiever hopes to get offers from the larger FBS schools such as N.C. State, Wake Forest, Clemson and South Carolina. He’s heard from N.C. State and Wake Forest the most and liked Clemson early on, but he hasn’t heard much from them lately.
He has spoken to South Carolina recruiter G.A. Mangus when he stopped by the school but has yet to have an offer. The only camps he went to this summer were at Clemson and the Shrine Bowl Combine. He plans to set visits after his season begins.
“I don’t really have a favorite,” McKiever said. “It’s whatever place I can fit in best.”