Final hurrah for brothersFebruary 28, 2006
By Zach Van Hart (Beaufort Gazette)
|Collin and Trent Drafts|
A paved driveway. A basketball hoop. A father and two sons. It's a commonplace tale for many families, and the Drafts are no exception.
Growing up, Trent and Collin Drafts developed their friendship and athleticism in the driveway. Older brother Trent played against father John and younger brother Collin, intensity a hallmark of the frequent pickup games.
"We had some real battles," said John.
Now college athletes, Trent, 22, and Collin, 20, fondly reminisced about the Sunday hoops tradition. Laid-back Trent thought back with a smile on his face while the more emotional Collin remembered his outbursts.
"They got pretty heated out there sometimes," said Collin. "Trent's competitive, but I'm the type of person who, when I was little, would just go nuts if I lost."
It all sounds like a typical childhood.
Eventually, the brothers' paths extended beyond the driveway. At times together, others apart, Trent and Collin would share memories from high school, memories from college and most importantly each other's comfort.
The normalcy of the Drafts' story deviates when you learn that John -- the current athletic director and boy's basketball coach at Battery Creek High School -- played
basketball for College of Charleston from 1974-78, becoming one of only three players in the school's 1,000-point/1,000-rebound club.
Throw in their mother Pam, an All-American swimmer for the Cougars during the same time, and the Drafts brothers were bound for athletic excellence.
The 6-foot-8 Trent would evolve into a star guard for the Creek basketball team, leading the Dolphins to a 23-6 record (a school record for wins) and a third-round appearance in the Class AAAA playoffs in 2001. Only two years younger, Collin played with his older brother on that team, a favorite memory for both.
But Collin, three inches shorter and a bit more compact than his brother, turned his attention to football. After starting for a winless Creek squad his sophomore season, Collin guided the Dolphins to the playoffs his final two years.
The brothers drew the attention of college recruiters throughout the state and beyond -- Trent contemplated attending Air Force -- before both chose a school a mere 75 miles away, Charleston Southern University.
"I knew it was going to be just like high school all over again," said Trent.
It has been exactly like high school for Collin. Trent, though, has dealt with his fair share of setbacks.
Collin's freshman season proceeded eerily similar to his sophomore season at BC. Southern went 1-11 and he was thrust into the starting lineup by the third week.
Then, he and the team greatly improved. The Bucs finished 5-5, their first non-losing season in program history. Collin rewrote the conference record book, with new highs in touchdowns (21), yards (2,533) completions (212) and completion percentage (62.3) as a sophomore.
Trent steadily progressed through his first three seasons, increasing his scoring all three years and starting in 27 of 28 games as a junior. As Collin started shredding school records, Trent prepared for what he thought would be his senior season. Until disaster struck.
On Oct. 15, 2004, 15 minutes into the first day of practice, Trent came down awkwardly on his right foot running sprints.
"I just came down on my right foot and felt a pop," said Trent. "I was in extreme pain and I knew right then that something really wasn't right."
Trent had broken the fifth metatarsal -- the major bone connecting the foot to the pinkie toe, leaving his season in doubt.
The family reacted with collective shock, none more so than John. When asked how Trent handled the news, his father said, "probably not as bad as I did. When he told me, I couldn't believe it. It was devastating."
For three months, Trent did not know if he would be healthy enough to come back that season. As January and conference play rolled around, when it became obvious Trent needed more recovery time, he decided to redshirt.
By then, football season was over. Collin was in the weight room, preparing for what he hoped to be a breakout junior season. Trent started his own preparations for another go-round. For both brothers, their biggest college wins were on the horizon. And another shared favorite memory.
Well, more like a favorite weekend.
This past Nov. 18, Charleston Southern faced crosstown rival -- and John's alma mater -- College of Charleston in the season opener. The Cougars entered with a 23-game win streak in the series, having last lost Dec. 3, 1988.
This Friday night would be different. Drafts scored 13 points, one of four Bucs players to hit double digits, and Charleston Southern ended the skid with an 82-77 victory.
Collin didn't see a second of the game. He was in a local hotel with the rest of the football team, relaxing the night before its season finale against Coastal Carolina and a share of the Big South championship at stake. But he might as well have been in the stands.
"I was on the phone probably eight different times in the last five minutes of the game," said Collin. "I was in the hallway yelling out, 'We're about to beat College of Charleston.' I was just jumping up and down for joy."
Hours later, Collin and Trent talked on the phone. "I just told him to go out and get another one tomorrow," said Trent.
It looked bleak against the Chanticleers for awhile. Playing before a packed stadium, the Buccaneers trailed Coastal 24-10 with less than 3 minutes to play. Even a touchdown run by Collin with 1:39 left appeared moot when the Chanticleers recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran down the clock to 10 seconds.
Facing a fourth-and-21 at its own 38-yard line, Coastal needed only to run out the clock and intended to just that. But Jerome Simpson, running towards his own end zone, lost track of time and unfathomably ran out of bounds at the 4-yard line with 1 second left.
The crowd erupted, including Trent and John. Meanwhile, Collin coolly took the field.
Running a play called Reno Bingo -- a take-off of a pass play where Collin rolls right and throws back left to a tight end who lined up in the tackle position -- Collin rolled right, then spotted receiver Markus Murry in the middle of the end zone, completing the touchdown pass. The extra point sent the game to overtime.
"I knew we were going to win the game after that," said Trent.
Southern prevailed 34-27 in double overtime, cementing the memorable weekend.
"I think I threw my helmet in the air," said Collin. "The fans rushed the field, tore down the goal posts."
"It was phenomenal," said John. "That whole weekend was unbelievable."
There won't be a weekend like that again, as tonight could be the end for Trent. Southern, which finished sixth in the Big South, travels to third-seeded Birmingham-Southern University in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. The Bucs' season, and Trent's college career, concludes with a loss.
His playing career may continue, though. He intends on pursuing overseas basketball if an opportunity arises. The family is very supportive of that possibility, especially Collin. Yet ...
"I wish he could see me play my senior year," said Collin.
With or without his life-long sidekick, Collin is ready to embark on the his potential final athletic chapter -- spring practice begins March 13.