The list of goals Kenney Solomon made over the summer is slowly getting checked off.
Get multiple offers to play college football – check.
Make explosive plays in all phases of the game – check.
Take Socastee to the playoffs – to be determined.
Solomon, a two-star cornerback according to 247Sports.com, boasts offers from the self-proclaimed national champions of 2017, the University of Central Florida; along with Coastal Carolina, Marshall, Miami (Oh), and others, totaling 14 schools bartering for his services next season. He says the best is yet to come on the recruiting front.
“I want to go to a school with good coaches and great academics so that I can further my education and football career in a positive atmosphere,” Solomon said. “In state or out, it doesn’t matter to me where the location is, I’m just trying to find the right fit where I can grow. I’ve had some good contact recently, so I feel like things are moving in the right direction.”
While he won’t focus on the next level yet, Solomon has instead set his priorities to what is right in front of him and his goal of making the playoffs.
“I have to lead my team each day in practice and on Friday nights. We’re getting better every day, but we can’t be satisfied with where we are right now, we’ve got to keep working,” the senior said. “We have to be fully prepared to execute the game plan the coaches give us each week and play our best on the field.”
At his best, Solomon shuts down one side of the field for the opposing offense. His straight line speed – he says he runs a 4.38- second 40-yard dash – is on display during track season where he competed for the state championship in the 100 and 200-meter dash. That speed helps him fool opposing quarterbacks into testing his coverage skills.
“On defense, I let the receivers look like their open, then close the gaps quick,” he said with a sly smile. “I want them to be open for a second, so the quarterback feels comfortable throwing them the ball, then I’m right there to make a play. I’m not always looking for an interception; I just want to make a play on the ball.”
For Head Coach Doug Illing, having a player with Solomon’s skillset is a huge weapon – on any side of the ball.
“He’s an athlete and a playmaker,” Illing said. “He’s a guy who has a chance to change the score anytime the ball is in his hands. Our jobs as coaches is to get the ball in his hands as many times as we can. If the defense has to prepare for him and account for him in a lot of different situations and positions that helps us. We want him to get the ball in open space, on offense and kick returns, to let him make plays for us.”
This season, Solomon already has a kickoff return for a touchdown, has scored on offense, and has picked off a pass. He hopes to be a key part of a Socastee defense that faces a big challenge this week when it visits the high-powered Myrtle Beach Seahawks at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“We used the week off to really get ready for the spread offense that Myrtle Beach runs,” Solomon said. “(Facing) West Brunswick and North Brunswick, we were trying to stop the run a lot, but Myrtle Beach has a different way of attacking a defense. They have really good receivers, so I’m trying to key in on what they do, how they run routes, and what their quarterback brings to the offense, he’s really good throwing and running.”
For his coach, Solomon does more than his share to put the Braves in a position to win each week, which is all he can ask from one of his star players.
“Right now, we’re breaking in a lot of good athletes who just don’t have the experience in games,” he said. “I know that I don’t really have to worry about Kenney, he’s going to be where I need him to be more often than not and he’s going to make a play. He’s a game-changer between the white lines.”
In facing Myrtle Beach, Illing’s game plan is relatively simple: keeping Luke Doty and the Seahawks offense on the sidelines and letting Solomon make big plays.
“We know year in and year out, they’re going to field a well-coached, quality football team,” Illing said of Myrtle Beach. “Matching up athlete-for-athlete is going to be tough to do, but we can mix up some schemes and confuse them a little bit to get some takeaways. We want to get their scoring machine off the field to give our guys a few more chances. We know Myrtle Beach is a good football team, located right down the beach, so there’s no extra motivation needed for our kids in this game.”