Everett Golson has a television situated a few feet from the foot of his bed, and it's often on - several hours a day on average.
But he's never really watching it. Golson can't recall the last show he sat and watched.
There's no time for TV when there's something out there to master.
"I feel every time I wake up I have a set agenda in my mind about what I have to do, so I work to get it done," Golson said. "Sometimes I'll look at the TV, and my eyes are fixed on it, but I'm not really looking at the TV. ...My mind is still rolling thinking about everything. I'll go from thinking about football plays to basketball."
Golson is gifted. He's been good at everything he's attempted. Even things as diametric as football and piano, two of the activities he fits into his schedule pretty much every day.
Golson never sits idle, nor do his God-given gifts.
The 17-year-old Myrtle Beach High senior's innate talents have been thrust to the surface by his unquenchable desire to improve. It's what has made him one of the most coveted high school football recruits in the country, will give him the opportunity to play two sports at the highest level of collegiate athletics, and made his orchestra teacher cry when she learned he was dropping her class to take weightlifting.
"He's so multi-talented, so gifted in so many areas. It's rare you meet a person who seems to be good at everything they try to do," said DeAndre Scott, Golson's varsity basketball coach for two years and teacher in freshman honors physical science. "What really separates him more than his talent is his drive. He has that drive that the great athletes have. He wants to be the best. He might not say that to your face, but he has that drive to excel in whatever he's trying to do.
"He's destined to do great things."
This summer, Golson attended both multiple football and AAU basketball camps and competitions. Since football practices began, he's fit in daily weightlifting, film viewing to study quarterback play, basketball shooting drills, and musical sessions both at school and home with an upright bass, drums, guitar or piano/keyboards. And he often lingers after practice to refine something or run extra sprints.
"He's one of those kids who is always working extra," Seahawks football coach Mickey Wilson said. "He's just a kid who is constantly on the move and always doing something positive. It's a joy to coach him and a pleasure to be around him."
Golson relaxing can be equated to the light going off in the refrigerator when you close the door: It's assumed, but few have visual evidence. His parents, Wayne and Cynthia Golson, have never seen him lounging in the living room of their home. Never.
"Everett is a workaholic and he loves a challenge," Cynthia said. "He's a born competitor and he's going to do the things to make sure he's successful."
And don't expect to see him hanging out at the mall, either. "He doesn't do stuff like a regular 17-year-old does, he does stuff like a 25-year-old does," said Seahawks senior running back Daiquone Ford. "He's not a child, he's just a mature 17-year-old. It just comes natural."
Golson's maturity, drive and intellect have allowed him to follow a seldom-traveled road athletically, musically, socially and academically - he's one of the top students in his class while taking college preparatory honors classes.
And it's all fueled by a fear of failure. "I don't want to say I'm afraid, but I don't like not being comfortable with something or not being perfect," Golson said. "It's like that with everything in my life. I feel I've always got to be better. I don't know how I'm going to do it, I've just got to."
A football phenom
Golson was a long shot to start his freshman year, maybe even a long shot to make the Seahawks varsity football team.
He played only one year in the Myrtle Beach school system, opting for recreational football until his eighth-grade year, when he skipped B-Team ball and was thrust into the JV starting quarterback role.
Then senior quarterback Andrew Ellis, who is now on the quarterback depth chart at Princeton University, was considered one of the state's best passers. He started 27 consecutive games, threw for 4,600 yards in two seasons and led the Seahawks to the Class AAA quarterfinals each year.
"Andrew Ellis was a great quarterback for us," said Wilson, who was the Seahawks offensive coordinator under Scott Earley before taking over head coaching duties last season. "Those two competed for the job and Everett beat him out. That was tough. As a coach sometimes you have to make those tough calls and play whoever puts you in the best situation to win. He handled it well and had a successful freshman year."
Having always played in older age groups throughout rec leagues made Golson familiar with the team's upperclassmen and made his freshman season more comfortable.
"I'm real thankful to those guys early on," Golson said. "Them boys were real welcoming. They were staying real positive about it. At the same time Drew was cool with it, too. He never acted negative towards me, and he never said any negative comments, he boosted me up. All those seniors and juniors kind of pushed me up."
The Golson-led Seahawks went 12-1 and reached the third round of the playoffs his freshman year, and are 39-4 in his three years with a win and a loss in the past two AAA state championship games.
Golson is coming off a junior season in which he completed 63 percent of his passes (224-for-356) for 3,529 yards and 47 touchdowns with just three interceptions. For his career, he's 659-of-1056 for 9,864 yards with 126 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.
If Golson can match the 47 TDs he threw in 2009, he'll move up to third all-time in the nation with 173. He would trail only Charlotte Independence High's Chris Leak , who threw 185 TDs from 1999-2002, and Kenton, Ohio's Ben Mauk, who threw 178 from 1999-2002.
A move into the top five is almost assured barring an injury. Greg Paulus of Syracuse Christian Brothers Academy is fifth at 152 TD passes from 2001-04. Tim Couch of Leslie County, Ky., (1992-95) is just seven ahead of Golson in 10th place all-time.
Golson says he's unaware of the numbers, however, and likes it that way for fear the records and accolades will conspire to make him complacent. He defers much of the credit for his gaudy numbers to his teammates, who have included current Georgia Southern receiver Jamere Valentine and East Carolina commitment Donte Sumpter.
"It's looked on individually but I think that's like a team accomplishment," Golson said. "It makes the offense look good and in turn it makes me look good. I can throw a 7-yard curl and my receivers will take it to the house, and it will kind of go on my record."
Golson was named a MaxPreps Junior All-American following the 2009 season. This summer he led Myrtle Beach to a title in a prestigious 7-on-7 passing league in Charlotte with several pro scouts in attendance, was named MVP at his position at the Nike Football Training Camp in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and was named the most athletic quarterback at the ESPN RISE Elite 11 Quarterback Competition in Aliso Viejo, Calif.
Twelve of the nation's most highly touted high school passers were invited to the Elite 11 event, which has a list of past participants that includes 32 NFL players and six first-round draft picks.
Though just 6-feet and 180 pounds, Golson can throw a football 70 yards, and can put a little extra on a throw when necessary. "He'll give me a little sting sometimes," senior receiver Dallas Goodman said. "On my bad days I might tell him to cool it off a little bit."
His athleticism is one of his strongest attributes, yet Golson rushed for only 199 yards and five touchdowns last season. Those modest numbers accentuate his pass-first mentality and composure in and out of the pocket.
"He's always had that knack for making something happen when he gets outside the pocket and keeping his eyes downfield," Wilson said. "I think that comes from playing basketball. Being a great basketball player and being a point guard, you've got to keep your head up and see what's going on while you're dribbling the basketball, so I think those two things kind of go hand in hand with Everett."
Although the normally soft-spoken and humble Golson has always led by example on the field, Wilson is relying on him to be more of a vocal leader this season as a senior.
"He looks after this whole team," Ford said. "Sometimes he's quiet, but most of the time when he knows we've got to step up, you'll hear him over everybody else leading us on. If it's anybody, he'll be doing it."
Golson's final season under center at Myrtle Beach High begins Friday night at Carolina Forest.
"Our fans at Myrtle Beach and the fans in this area, whether they are for another team or not, I think they really need to come out and see the kid play because he's special and he's not going to be here much longer," Wilson said.
The other sport
Although Golson is heralded more for his football than his basketball exploits, he cares for each sport equally. "I don't think I can put one over the other," he said. "I put my heart and soul into everything."
Golson averaged 19.6 points, 5 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game as a junior. Though he was named All-State by the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association last season and led the Seahawks to the Class AAA state hoops title as a freshman point guard, he still hears the whispers that his basketball skills fall short of his football prowess.
"I think that's what I really look for is a challenge. That's kind of the situation with basketball," Golson said. "A lot of people say, 'He's a great football player but he's not really all that in basketball.' That's what kind of drives me. That's part of the reason I work so hard."
Golson has verbally committed to play football at the University of North Carolina, and he intends to play basketball for the Tar Heels as well.
He had a conversation with UNC basketball coach Roy Williams this summer, "and he said if it's all right with the football team you're welcome to be on the basketball team," Golson said.
Williams' assistants also saw Golson play an impressive game at an AAU tournament that included UNC commitment P.J. Hairston of Greensboro, N.C. Golson also held his own head-to-head against touted Kentucky commitment Marquis Teague, ESPNU's No. 3 rising senior in the country, while playing for the South Carolina Ravens.
"I think a lot of people are questioning that decision [to play two sports in college] on his part," Wilson said, "but if anybody can pull it off he can. He'll be fine."
Tar Heel considerations
The NCAA is investigating the UNC football program under the suspicion that some players may have had illegal contact with agents. As with all NCAA probes, the findings could result in penalties against the program.
Golson said he isn't wavering on his commitment to coach Butch Davis and the Tar Heels because of the probe. He believes individuals may be affected, but not the program.
"Even if it did [affect the program], I don't think it will affect my decision because that's the school I've wanted to go to since I was young," Golson said.
He wouldn't completely rule out a change of heart, particularly pending any coaching changes or NCAA sanctions. "Anything can happen," Golson said. "People go to the last minute and decide to change. You can't really tell right now, but as of right now I'm solely on UNC."
Golson will take some official visits to other schools. "You always have to have a backup plan," he said. "I haven't figured out where, though."
The commitment to UNC in July of heralded senior quarterback Marquise Williams of Charlotte, N.C., also isn't deterring Golson.
Williams is ranked 13th in the nation by Scout.com among quarterbacks in the Class of 2011, while Golson is 15th, and Williams is ranked 12th among dual-threat quarterbacks by Rivals.com, while Golson is 20th.
"Competition is going to be everywhere you go," Golson said. "It's not like you go there and you're going to start. You've got to put in work, you've got to study hard in the film room. The fact about him committing doesn't really bother me too much. At the end of the day I know all of us are going to have to work for that spot. It comes down to who wants it the most. At the same time you bond and become a family."
One seeming advantage Williams has on Golson is size. Williams is 6-3 and 220 pounds, while Golson hasn't grown much since his freshman year. "It's something about this slender body," Golson said. "Hopefully they can put some weight on me at UNC."
One explanation is Golson doesn't set aside time to eat. "I don't eat as much as I should, and I think that's killing me right now," Golson said. "It's a busy schedule. It seems like there's no time to eat."
Though he'd like to bulk up for durability, Golson said he's not concerned about his size, and points out that reigning Super Bowl champion quarterback Drew Brees is also 6 feet tall.
"At the end of the day to me size doesn't really matter," Golson said. "It's the knowledge of the game and the heart that you have. If you believe you can do it, the sky's the limit."
Golson's increasing involvement in athletics has left his music as a release, particularly his keyboard compositions.
"Music is my outlet," Golson said. "Sometimes when I was in middle school I'd get mad and I'll just go in [the auditorium] and play. I guess that kind of clears my head a little bit.
"I guess it gets me thinking. What they tell me is people who play keyboards think with a different part of their minds.... It's impossible to learn everything on a keyboard, so I strive to keep doing it."
Golson began playing music as a toddler. His father, uncle, paternal grandmother and older brother, Edwin, all play instruments, and a minimal amount of high school orchestra class accounts for the only lessons he's had for the four instruments he plays.
"He's just gifted I guess," Cynthia Golson said. "He keeps telling me he can have a one-man show."
He was accomplished enough by his freshman year that Lynn Auman, an orchestra teacher at Myrtle Beach High, cried after learning he was dropping her class.
Golson occasionally spends up to an hour on keyboards at the school following practice, and often spends hours a night on his electronic computerized keyboard in his bedroom. He'll compose a song on the keyboard, then add an accompanying drum beat. "He won't leave until he gets it right," Wayne Golson said. "He works hard at whatever he does."
Golson plays either drums or keyboards with his father in the band at Mount Olive AME Church on Carver Street, unless he's recruited by Edwin to play at True Light Sounds of Praise Church on Grissom Parkway instead.
A two-hour service often isn't enough time for Golson on the church's grand piano, organ and drums. "He says, 'Dad, let's stay up here.'" Wayne Golson said. "I'm like, 'No, I'm ready to go home.'"
Golson has identified something he doesn't believe he would be good at: a traditional job. "If you give me a job I couldn't do it," Golson said. "I ain't too much of a worker. I don't think I'd be very good. I'd probably get fired.
"Hopefully I'll get my money another way, being a sports star."
With his musical and athletic abilities, combined with his desire and propensity to do the right thing, there's a good chance he won't have to worry about a 9-to-5 job.
"It almost seems like a fairy tale, but it is a true story," Wayne Golson said. "The Lord has blessed us and blessed Everett, too."