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Three former Thomson stars face off in Columbia

Jasper Brinkley wrapped up Demarco McNair for five of his nine tackles on the day. No, it's not stats from a Thomson football practice back in 2002. It's Division I college football.

Former Thomson standouts McNair and twin brothers Casper and Jasper Brinkley faced off at Williams-Brice Stadium this past Saturday as South Carolina routed Middle Tennessee State, 52-7.

"It was a great experience to come to South Carolina and see my old friends and have a chance to compete against them." McNair said about being by tackled his former teammate. "...It was kind of fun because I'm so used to being on a team with him back in high school."

Middle Linebacker Jasper Brinkley had a monster game for the Gamecocks, leading the team with eight solo stops and one assist. One and a half of those tackles were for a loss, and he tacked on a quarterback hurry just for good measure.

"It was like old times," Jasper Brinkley said of putting a few hits on McNair then helping him to his feet. "He still runs the ball hard like he used to. We talked after every play, 'Good job,' you know."

McNair - who platoons at running back for Middle Tennessee - rushed for 33 yards on seven carries in the game, an average of 4.7 yards per carry. He is second in all purpose yardage for the Blue Raiders this season.

"I wish we would have gotten him the ball a little more than we did," Middle Tennessee Coach Rick Stockskill said of McNair, calling him a hard-nosed runner. "If we're going to win and be successful, we've got to get him the ball more."

McNair even broke free on his first carry, late in the first quarter, before running almost head on into a scrambling referee. That gave the gamecocks a chance to catch him for just an 8-yard gain.

"That was a touchdown," McNair said shaking his head.

Jasper's twin brother, defensive end Casper Brinkley put pressure on the Blue Raiders' quarterback all day. He ended up with a sack for a 7-yard loss, an assist and a forced fumble.

The Gamecock coaches had high praise for their twin defenders.

"It's very important," USC Coach Steve Spurrier said of adding the Brinkleys to the roster this season. "The Brinkley brothers have been a big part of our defense, no question about it. Jasper, I think, had a whole bunch of tackles today, and Casper had a big game a while back. But they've played very well."

"It's no doubt that our recruiting efforts have paid off by having those two guys join our team," said USC Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix. "...They are definitely two guys that we are fortunate to have and blessed to have on this football team. They've had success this year."

The trio of former Thomson stars traded hand shakes and congratulations after the game. They agreed that having so many of them in the college ranks could only spell future success for Bulldogs working toward what they've already accomplished on the NCAA gridiron.

"I love to see my old teammates and to know they have an opportunity to keep playing football," Jasper Brinkley said. "I'm very thankful for that. I think there's like eight of us in college right now."

"That's a good thing for Thomson," McNair said. "You've got players coming out of there trying to do something with their lives and better themselves, trying to help the community out. It's a good experience."

Web posted on Thursday, November 23, 2006

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