By J.T. Powell
Senior defensive back Gabriel Bynum of Rocky Mount High School (NC) shared his thoughts about recruitment and goals for this upcoming season. The Gryphons opened up the season with a victory against Middle Creek High School. Bynum expressed excitement about his team’s growth from the off-season until now, “I feel we’re going to win states this year. During our scrimmages two or three weeks ago we had some weak points, but when we came back to practice we gelled together as a team and got better. We were underdogs coming into the week facing Middle Creek, everybody talking on social media said that we would get beat badly. Our Coach [Jason Battle] said don’t worry about it and just play. Early predictions had them beating us by 21, but we beat them by 21. Every week we have a home game we have a dinner at one of our teammate’s house, this improves communication. We feel that if we keep going in this direction we will be good”.
College coaches will be glad to finally watch Bynum in the position that he is being recruited for which is defensive back. After working extremely hard this off-season to improve his speed and agility, and after putting up impressive performances at camps such as Clemson’s invite only camp this summer, the Appalachia Prep Combine, and 7-on-7 games, Bynum worked his way from playing defensive end to the nickel corner position for Rocky Mount. Bynum discusses how he worked his way into the new position, “At first it was a bit troubling and kind of difficult. I never played in the secondary except in middle school or during 7-on-7 games. During the summer time I would go to Clemson with Coach Reed to get taught, and I soaked up all the information he would teach me. When I went to the APC and did 1-on-1s I felt more comfortable with myself. Shyheim [Battle] and I went to Clemson for a couple of days and we were just walking around. Finally, one of the coaches told us they wanted us to attend camp. We did and I got to compete against four and five star players which made me more comfortable. I’ve been working hard all spring and summer. For example, last year I was running a 4.7 around this time. When I went to the USA camp I ran a 4.5, so I kept working hard and put God first. Once the pads came on I was no longer doubting myself. My Coach told me in the spring that I could play whatever position I wanted during 7-on- 7, but when the season come I’m going to play defensive end. I showed him that my athleticism and my speed had greatly improved during our first scrimmage game against Burn. After the game he [Coach Battle] said that I did well but I have to learn how to set the edge. After we played our next scrimmage game I learned how to set the edge, so by the time the first game came around everyone was impressed and believed in me”.
The Rocky Mount star defensive player had a busy spring and summer in regards to recruiting. Bynum stated that he attended camps at VT, Clemson, and NC State during the off-season. One school that Bynum receives a lot of mail from is ECU. “I get a lot of mail from ECU. Everyone else has been telling me to work harder and to send my film out after every game. If I keep playing like I did Saturday I feel I will get an offer by mid-season”. The elite North Carolina defensive-back is open to all schools who would offer him, but he expressed special interest in NC State, “Before Shyheim committed we talked. . . I was surprised. . . Every time we would go there we got a feeling inside. . . Coach Barlow seems like a coach you will always want and he will push you. Also, I want to get in the Engineering program at NC State and do something that most football players don’t and that is major in engineering. I know my freshman and sophomore year I played around in school, but now I have a plan and I’m looking forward to my academic future”.
Bynum recorded 5 solo tackles, 1 forced fumble, and a blocked field goal during the Gryphon’s season opener. When asked about what is on his mind early on this season, Bynum responded, “On my mind I just have my little thoughts with God. I just try to stay focused on the man in front of me and to do my job. I try not to think too much just keep my mind focused on God”.
For more on this article contact J.T. Powell