Tymere Zimmerman won’t get double- and triple-teamed in recruiting like he is on the football field.
The pressure could be just as bad, though, with several dozen schools trying to pull him away from Clemson.
It will all start next Semptember 1. That’s when schools can call Zimmerman, who by then will be one of the top targets of nearly every school in the nation.
Zimmerman, of Marlboro County High School, is a wide receiver and defensive back for a team that went 15-0 and won the South Carolina AAAA Division II championship last season. He caught 49 passes for 1001 yards as a sophomore.
Three games into his junior year he wanted to put an early end to the recruiting madness. He called Clemson coach Tommy Bowden and told him he wanted to be a Tiger in 2001.
Let the war begin.
South Carolina receivers coach Todd Fitch arrived at the Marlboro County campus bright and early the next morning.
“They weren’t scheduled to be here as far as I knew,” said Marlboro County coach Dean Boyd. Boyd was caught as off-guard as Fitch when Zimmerman committed to Clemson.
“Coach Bowden called me and asked me if I had talked to Tymere,” Boyd said. “I told him that I hadn’t. He told me that Tymere had called him that morning. They had offered him that summer. He said that Tymere had called him that morning and said that he wanted to come to Clemson. He asked me not to say anything to Tymere until he spoke to me.”
Tymere, out of school that day along with his classmates due to Hurricane Floyd, finally broke the news to Boyd and everyone else that afternoon.
“I didn’t even know he had committed,” said Marlboro County quarterback Cam Newton, Zimmerman’s best friend. They sing tenor together in the 130-man gospel group Boyz of Gospel. Zimmerman went solo that day.
“It’s just eased my mind a lot,” said Zimmerman. “I like the offense, the players and the coach. Coach Bowden is just willing to win. He felt like I had what it takes to play at Clemson. And I did too.”
Bowden watched tape on Zimmerman during the summer. Boyd, who worked at Clemson’s football camp, brought Bowden the tape. He went back home with Bowden’s number to give to Zimmerman (until Sept 1 of a player’s senior year, coaches can’t call players).
Zimmerman called Bowden several times over the past few months. He also went to the Clemson-Marshall game before making his decision.
“The big pressure is gone,” he said.
If he keeps on playing like he has so far this year, and then listens to other schools, the pressure will only get worse.
Zimmerman said he will listen to what other schools have to say over the next year.
“Tymere is a happy-go-lucky kind of kid,” said Boyd. “Somebody may come in and he will at least think about it. He’s going to go somewhere where he’s going to get his hands on the ball a great deal.”
Zimmerman first appeared on the field for Marlboro Country late in his freshman year. He was called up from the junior varsity team during the playoffs. He caught three passes in a driving rain at Easley.
“That’s when we knew we had something special,” said Boyd.
As much as defenses are trying to double team his this year, Zimmerman is still catching the ball.
Marlboro County has a 4-1 record with Zimmerman getting his hands on the ball plenty.
He caught nine passes for 134 yards and returned a kickoff for a touchdown in a 27-12 win over Crestwood in the third game of the season. In a 49-0 win over West Florence Friday night he caught three touchdown passes.
“It’s like when he makes his move, I know where he should be and I just lay it in there,” said Newton.
Zimmerman also intercepted 12 passes a year ago. Don’t count on his playing defensive back in college, though.
“He’s the type that likes to touch the ball,” said Boyd. “He’s got a knack for getting the football and making things happen. He’s not happy unless he’s in there with a chance to touch the football.”
Zimmerman, who didn’t grow up a Clemson fan, said he has always liked watching Florida State on television. “Peter Warrick – he’s the man,” he said. “But my favorite football player of all is Champ Bailey.”
He can count on both schools calling.
“You watch Florida State,” said recruiting analyst Mickey Plyler. “They wait around and don’t get commitments early. They get quarterbacks early, but they wait on the other positions.”
Zimmerman said he likes the idea of his mother being able to travel to see him play in college. That’s why he didn’t call Bobby Bowden at Florida State.
What about when Bailey calls from Georgia, though?
“Now that’s pressure,” Zimmerman said.