Most area sports fans know the name Rico Bravo.
While attending Lakeside High School in the mid-90s, he was a two-sports star and a legitimate Division I college recruit. He was a record-setting quarterback for two seasons in football and also was the baseball Area Player of the Year for 1998 as a senior: He was 9-3 on the mound and .440 with seven homers at the plate.
As expected, Bravo had scouts drooling. Finally, he settled on Columbia, S.C., and signed a baseball scholarship with the University of South Carolina.
In high school, Bravo was a shortstop, but the Gamecocks quickly moved him to third base and also planned to utilize his ability on the mound. Well, during his days in Columbia, Bravo has played first base, third base, catcher and now is on the mound. Mostly, though, Bravo as been spending his time healing from a variety of injuries that have hampered his career.
Bravo - a 6-2, 220-lb. junior - is actually in his fourth year at Columbia, but he has already has two redshirt years: first, in 1999, due to a shoulder injury and a again last season following Tommy John elbow surgery.
This season, in four appearances, Bravo has a 4.91 ERA. Unfortunately, he will not be on the Gamecock's 25-man roster for this year's College World Series in Omaha, Neb. But a championship ring would still be a nice feather in his cap. Hopefully, he can come back next season and be a major contributor at USC.
Bravo not alone in Columbia
Former Greenbrier Star Hampton Rowland is also a member of the Gamecocks baseball team. Rowland transferred to USC after two brilliant seasons at Middle Georgia Junior College. Rowland was 10-3 with a 2.56 ERA for the Warriors. He now stands 6-3 and weighs 201 lbs. and seems to have a good future at USC. He, too, will miss the College World Series because he is redshirting this year and will have two more years of eligibility.
These two former Columbia County standouts may not be in Omaha this weekend, but because of Bravo and Rowland, I'll be rooting for the Gamecocks to take home the national title.
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