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Gryphons' Silver picking up offers

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Rocky Mount High’s Keeshawn Silver, left, tackles West Carteret’s Josh Plisko in the backfield during Rocky Mount High’s first-round win last season in the Class 3-A playoffs. Silver, an incoming junior, has already received eight offers from colleges to play football.

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By PATRICK MASON
Sports Writer

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Keeshawn Silver is being watched.

The rising Rocky Mount High junior is receiving offers from colleges around the country, and this is only the beginning.

“It’s crazy,” said Silver, a defensive tackle/end. “I think I’m handing it pretty good, though. It’s a big process and you can only deal with it as it comes.”

And it’s offers that have been coming for Silver, who is 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds. He has eight in total, from schools that include Duke, N.C. State, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Wake Forest and Southern California.

Silver made 31 tackles as a sophomore last season, including eight for a loss. He also added 3.5 sacks across the seven games he played. Silver took snaps at both defensive tackle and end, helping the Gryphons to a 9-2 record and a berth in the second round of the Class 3-A playoffs.

Silver has been to a few camps but hasn’t participated in hopes of staying healthy. Instead, he’s been watching and learning. That’s what he was doing at North Carolina on June 15 for new head coach Mack Brown’s Showtime camp, and it was shortly after that he was offered. Silver said that teams are intrigued by his blend of size, speed and length.

“I have a 7-foot-1 wingspan, so when I get off the line my first intent is to get my arms and hands into the guy in front of me to move him out of the way,” Silver said. “I’m really working on using my hands more, and also perfecting my footwork.”

Silver grew up playing basketball, and he said that was where he developed agility along with an aggressive mindset when it comes to competition. And when he entered seventh grade, he began playing football. Like most young players, Silver saw snaps at a variety of positions.

His size and strength, however, naturally brought him to the line and that’s where he’s been ever since.

“When I was younger I was a big basketball player,” he said. “And whenever I was on the court I would play aggressive. And so in middle school when I tried out for football I liked it because I was having a lot of fun like in basketball, and you can be aggressive out there, too.”

Silver will be a key piece for the Gryphons defense this season, which allowed a little more than 17 points per game last in 2018. His projected position at the next level will be at end, and that comes with a number of responsibilities.

Not only will he be tasked with chasing down quarterbacks, he’ll also have to defend the edge.

“At my position you’re going to see a lot of fake plays so you really got to pay attention,” Silver said.

Silver has kept a private journal since his freshman season, and he fills it with game notes, personal goals and things he needs to work on. Currently, some of those goals are tailored to finding efficient ways to get into opponents' backfield — and ultimately blowing up plays.

As for what’s to come, Silver can expect plenty of offers to roll in over the course of the year, and he’s relied on former teammate Shyheim Battle for guidance. Battle, who had at least 15 offers by March in his junior year of high school, committed to and is enrolled at N.C. State.

Battle, a cornerback, tried not to let the feeding frenzy that is the college recruiting process overwhelm him, and that was his message to Silver.

“I talked to Shyheim about it a lot, and he basically told me not to get trapped,” Silver recalled. “That means that (coaches) will tell you everything you want to hear and make everything sound perfect. So the key is to listen to yourself and find where you feel home is, stay focused and don’t budge from where you think you’ll be happiest.”

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