Whether it's in the huddle or on Twitter or Facebook, soon-to-be South Carolina freshman Kyle Fleetwood always seems to be doing his part to get his team fired up.
The 5-foot-11, 199 pound safety, who will start Summer I at South Carolina next Monday, knows there's a chance he'll redshirt his first season, but he hopes to be a positive influence as a leader on his team as quickly as possible.
"I've always been a leader growing up," Fleetwood says. "I've always tried to fulfill a leadership role in whatever I do, whether it's school, sports, whatever I do, [by] making positive decisions."
Fleetwood, who hopes to wear No. 12 or No. 9, says he could start out at a number of potential positions including field safety, boundary safety or cornerback. Regardless of the position, he wants to do whatever he can to help the team.
"Me coming in as a freshman, I definitely want to learn, I definitely want to be able to absorb knowledge, but at the same time I want to be able to get after it and just push myself and push my teammates to be the best we can possible be," he says. "I definitely feel there's a transformation going on at South Carolina. There's good things going for us right now and it's all positive."
While he knows the transformation to major college football won't be easy, the former Stephenson High School (Ga.) standout may have a leg up on his teammates in getting ready for those grueling summer workouts.
|More from Fleetwood: "I've actually got a little calendar that we count down the number of days until I leave. I think my parents have a lot of mixed emotions. They're sad, they're happy, but they're glad I'm getting to play football and do something I love doing." |
"I try to workout at least four to five times a week," Fleetwood says. "I'm actually working with my fellow SEC player, Brad Lester, who played at Auburn -- I'm training with him and he works me out. We've been doing a good job getting prepared for college workouts and I think it's going to help me in knowing to to expect and being prepared."
Fleetwood, who will room with fellow Georgia stars DE Darius English and K Nick St. Germain, will enroll with his former teammates RB Mike Davis and DT Carlos Hood. He gives defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward credit for recruiting the Stephenson trio to Columbia.
"Coach Ward, I think first of all is, he's very honest. I think he plays a fatherly role and he can coach me not only on the field but off the field too," Fleetwood said. "He pointed me in the right direction, and South Carolina felt like home when I was there. He made it feel like a great experience and he made it feel like they were in my best interest."
Fleetwood finish his senior season with 49 tackles, 11 pass breakups and seven interceptions.
With depth concerns at safety, there's also always the possibility that Fleetwood could be thrust into action right away -- his body type and fearlessness also make him a prime candidate to be a special teams contributor early in his career. He hopes he can make an impact in more than one way.
"I've always looked at it like this: growing up I was always good at whatever I did, but there was always doubters at the same time. 'You won't be able to get anywhere, you won't be able to get this role.' ... I just always wanted to have the idea that I would push myself to the maximum limit to help myself as well as my teammates, and I feel like that my leadership role definitely plays a big part in the team."
While later this week Fleetwood will be moving to a new place, and meeting tons of new people, he already has a very special bond with the South Carolina fanbase.
Fleetwood is a frequent Tweeter, who often uses the social network to speak his mind.
But in December, the roles were reversed when tests revealed an issue with Fleetwood's heart that would need surgery to correct.
The surgery was successful and the issue seems to be a minor past bump in the road for the always-positive Fleetwood. But it's the unexpected strong showing of support from fans he's never met that has stuck with him ever since.
"I think that's what moved my relationship closer to the fans and to the coaching staff. I heard from every coach and the whole fanbase reached out to me in a time that was very unexpected. I had never had a heart issue before, but something happened to show up. It was a positive thing -- I felt the movement with the fans, and I felt the love between the fans, and that's what I really, really appreciate the most. That's why I feel like it's my job to give back to the fans and put on for Columbia -- I feel like they deserve it."
Fleetwood was in Columbia the first week of May to see a Cardiologist and received a clean bill of health to participate this fall.
Getting to know Kyle Fleetwood
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Pursuit of Happyness
Megan Fox or Megan Good
I can do backflips
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