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Ryan Brewer

 

Article Provided by The Gamecock Newspaper
By: Alex Riley
Sports Editor

Issue date: 8/3/05 Section: Sports

 

Ryan Brewer extends the football after scoring one of his three touchdowns in the 2001 Outback Bowl. Brewer, an Ohio native, had a career high of 109 yards rushing against Ohio State.
Ryan Brewer extends the football after scoring one of his three touchdowns in the 2001 Outback Bowl. Brewer, an Ohio native, had a career high of 109 yards rushing against Ohio State.

 

Tom Price, Gamecock historian, wrote in his book "Tales from the Gamecock Roost": "Gamecocks are known for their courage in battle and willingness to fight to the death."

If that statement holds true, Ryan Brewer was destined to wear the garnet and black.

Brewer, a native of Troy, Ohio, arrived at Carolina with a list of credentials that included being tabbed as Mr. Football for the state of Ohio. But his 5-foot-10-inch, 210-pound frame didn't impress the home state, nor did it impress his favorite school, Notre Dame.

"It was all about coach Holtz," Brewer said. "I was a big Notre Dame fan. When I heard he was coming here, I didn't know much about South Carolina living in Ohio. I decided to go somewhere where someone wants me."

After failing to win a single contest his first year, came 2000 and the biggest turnaround in SEC history.

The running game of Derek Watson and Andrew Pinnock dominated the ground, while Brian Scott and Jermale Kelly took hold of the air attack. Brewer had nice games of more than 50 yards on the ground and through the air but nothing for the "highlight reel."

That was until Tennessee came calling. With the game tied at 7-7, quarterback Phil Petty hit Brewer for a 78-yard touchdown pass that would give USC the lead late in the third period.

Despite the heroics of the 15th longest passing play in USC history, the Gamecocks fell to the Vols and ended with a 7-4 record and trip to the Outback Bowl to face Ohio State.

Things looked bleak for the Gamecocks, as Watson was suspended from the game for team policy violations.

Holtz had to implement a new running back alongside Pinnock's bruising power. Brewer stepped up for the job, not only to run the ball, but to prove to his home state they had missed an opportunity.

Brewer took hold of the ground game, rushing for 109 yards and two scores, while catching three passes for 92 yards and another score, as USC cruised past the Buckeyes, 24-7.

"The game meant a lot to me playing Ohio State," Brewer said. "It also gave me a chance to play running back. I got a bunch of touches on the ball, and I could actually show what I could do. I figured I might as well take advantage of it. It was exciting being in that limelight for a little bit, against a team I knew I had to prove something to."

Not only did he outplay the Buckeyes, but after being grabbed by the facemask in the fourth period, Brewer proceeded to flip a Buckeye player over his head after reaching the end zone.

A 106-yard receiving effort against Georgia in 2002 made him one of only three players in Gamecock history to have 100-yard receiving and rushing games.

Brewer left Carolina as the No. 8 receiver of all-time, totaling 1,136 yards and five touchdowns on 107 receptions. He came close to tying the legendary Sterling Sharpe for consecutive games with a reception, finishing three shy of the record with 31.

"I just like the fact that you can put me anywhere on the field," Brewer said. "The fact that I can go out and help the team in any way possible is what I wanted to do."

Brewer earned Verizon Academic All-America honors and was named to the Hula Bowl in 2002.

The NFL didn't come knocking on draft day, but a free-agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens allowed Brewer a short professional career. The Ravens sent Brewer to NFL Europe in hopes he would be ready for the next season.

"I was with the Baltimore Ravens for the preseason until the last cut," Brewer said. "Ended up going to Europe to the Rein Fire and got traded to Berlin for the last four games. And Berlin won the World Bowl."

Brewer has settled down in Columbia with his wife and started a business. But even with his passion for the game, Brewer says he wouldn't change a thing.

"I met my wife here, I have tons of friends now," Brewer said. "I have no regrets of what I did. I had great time. That's pretty much all you can ask for."