The moment showed Dan Pippin there was more to Sam Pinckney than just a dominant future college football player.
The Greenwood coach found himself in a tough spot.
“It’s the first game, it’s fourth-and-2,” Pippin said. “There’s like six, seven minutes to go in the game, we’ve got to get it. We’re at our 26.”
Pinckney, a 6-foot-3 receiver who received a South Carolina offer his sophomore year and currently could play at Florida State or LSU, had been dinged up in a scrimmage, a product of staying in too long and something for which Pippin took the blame.
Never miss a local story.
Some players would be irked they weren’t the target, especially if they’re a Power 5 talent. They’d pout or not do their job.
“Sam’s blocking a kid 40 yards down the field,” Pippin said. “That’s something that you don’t see a lot of kids who have his ability. He’s a Division I receiver. He could block. He could not block. He’s still going to be a Division I receiver.
“That’s a big deal, to me, that’s a huge deal. ... It shows what kind of person he is.”
Pinckney will likely make some college coach happy sooner rather than later. His size and ability have him ranked as the 23rd-best player in South Carolina for 2018. He’s already set a number of records at one of the state’s power-house programs, and he found his place in Pippin’s spread option.
He’s the sort of player Greenwood regularly produces, next-level talented ones, and that size is something he puts to use tormenting high school defenders.
“It’s easier,” Pinckney said. “The bigger you are, you can control the defender that’s on you. I’m not getting pushed around. I’m trying to get faster and quicker, create more separation.”
He’s part of a run of taller Eagles targets, from Spearman Robinson (Western Carolina) to Aaron Broadwater (North Greenville) to Mock Adams (Appalachian State).
Pippin and Pinckney came in together. The receiver was a freshman starter as the first-year coach transitioned the team from a triple-option offense that won the 2012 state title to the spread (the sort that won the program a pair of championships in 1999 and 2000).
In a program that’s seen plenty of talent, Pinckney has put his name all across the record books. He’s set the career and single season receptions marks (72 and 134, respectively). His 1,200 yards in 2016 was the second-most in school history, and he sits 17 yards from the career mark.
Where he goes next is unclear. He hasn’t heard from USC in a while. Clemson didn’t come after him, but the FSU, LSU and Georgia offers came in rapid succession. Offers came in May from Indiana and Virginia Tech.
Wherever he lands, his coach is convinced the program will get something that goes beyond the big, fast and productive body.
“When the best player is one of your best worker everywhere,” Pippin said, “that makes things a whole lot better for the head coach.”