Editor’s note: This is part of a series looking back at South Carolina’s 2007 recruiting class. National Signing Day is Wednesday, Feb. 6.
Surfing the internet for a person’s whereabouts can be a difficult chore. Particularly when that individual has a common name. Type “Brian Maddox” into a LinkedIn search bar and you’ll find over 80 results.
But if you’re a Gamecock fan and it’s a Brian Maddox of leaping fame you’re seeking, pay close attention to the pictures associated with each profile. You’ll eventually stumble upon your guy. You can’t miss him.
Maddox, a service center manager at Southeastern Freight Lines in Pooler, Georgia, is still connected to his time as a South Carolina running back. A four-star prospect out of T.L. Hanna in Anderson, Maddox was part of 29 wins and an SEC East Division championship. He ran for 833 yards, scored 13 touchdowns and created one meme.
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The Gamecock Brian Maddox is easy to spot on LinkedIn because the image next to his name is of him hurdling an Auburn defender. The caption underneath reads: “DETERMINATION: Because sometimes you have to ninja-kick a guy in the face.”
Nine years later, Maddox can still recall every detail of that play — right down to a spot-on Steve Spurrier impression of what the charismatic Carolina coach told him that sparked the risk.
“I got shoe-string tackled a couple plays before that and I ran to the sideline,” Maddox said. “And coach Spurrier said, ‘B-Madd, I don’t care if the guy’s standing tall, I don’t care if he’s on the ground, I want you to jump him. I want you to jump him.’
“And I said, ‘All right, Coach.’ So next time I caught the ball, I was jumping regardless.”
Maddox, then a 5-foot-11, 224-pounder, went up and toed through the facemask of Auburn defensive back T’Sharvan Bell, a listed 6-footer. It officially made for a 23-yard reception from Stephen Garcia, but that’s too simple a description.
“Everybody loved it,” Maddox said. “It was a moment in time that all my teammates loved. In some of those shots, you can see some of the coaches, everybody’s mouth was open. If you watch a replay of the play, you’ll see that the sideline erupted once that happened.”
Maddox seemed destined for a variety of such highlights when he came to USC in 2007 as the nation’s No. 9 RB. He picked the Gamecocks over 50-some offers, most notably Florida, Virginia Tech, Nebraska and Ohio State.
“South Carolina, it was close to home,” Maddox said. “Family could come to just about every game, home or away. And just the overall feel of the coaching staff, Robert Gillespie being the running backs coach. He always had a lot of enthusiasm. And I saw that during the recruiting process. While he was there, it was the same thing.”
The ‘07 class — ranked sixth by Rivals — remains the highest-rated in South Carolina history. That wasn’t a secret among its members, Maddox said.
“We talked about it all the time,” he said. “We still do to this day.”
With expectations came challenges. The group was talented on the field. Off it, though, accountability didn’t come all that naturally.
“We pushed each other to go to class,” Maddox said. “I graduated in three and a half years, but for others, it was hard. It was that thing to where you gotta take care of your brother or he’s not gonna be on the field with you. That was first and foremost.
“But I don’t think we felt any pressure. We had fun whatever our role was on the team.”
Maddox was usually in a supporting role. He made seven starts in his career, sharing backfield time with everybody from Mike Davis (Columbia High) to Kenny Miles to Marcus Lattimore.
“I think when I got my opportunity, I did pretty daggone good,” Maddox said. “As you speak about later in the career, I think maybe we could have used two backs a little bit more — myself and Marcus. But I had fun. I had a blast. Learned a lot. It definitely set me up for success in the business world as far as not quitting, always being ready.”
After going undrafted, Maddox’s mini-camp opportunity with the Philadelphia Eagles was derailed by the NFL lockout. His backup plan became Southeastern Freight Lines. He’s been with the trucking company for over five years, climbing to his current management position in June 2016.
“It’s great to be working at such a great company,” Maddox said. “That’s the thing about never giving up. You always gotta be ready when your number’s called. Nowadays, a lot of kids, they give up and quit too easy. You got to be able to push yourself, even if you’re not in that starting lineup, even if you’re not in the headlines of the news.
“You got to be ready when your number’s called.”