Brandon McIlwain drew national attention even before his high school career. As an eighth-grader at Newtown Middle School, he threw a football 56 yards. "He's going to be a good one down the line," Council Rock North coach Adam Collachi said at the time.
That turned out to be quite an understatement.
As a four-year starter for the Indians, the incredibly dynamic quarterback accounted for 10,427 yards and 124 touchdowns on offense.
Quick-footed, elusive, and poised, McIlwain threw for 6,545 yards and 54 TDs. He also rushed for 3,882 yards and 70 touchdowns. Throw in a pick-six and an 86-yard kickoff return, and the once-in-a-lifetime type finished with a whopping 126 TDs.
And not surprisingly, McIlwain, a hard-hitting and strong-armed outfielder on the diamond, closed in spectacular fashion.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder, who also played free safety and handled the punting duties, sparked the Indians to a 7-4 record, the Suburban One League Continental Conference championship, and a berth in the PIAA District 1 Class 4A playoffs.
McIlwain, who played on despite suffering a separated shoulder in Week 4 and fracturing the thumb on his throwing hand in Week 6, connected on 147 of 252 throws for 1,720 yards and 18 TDs. On the ground, he netted 1,545 yards and 31 scores on 227 attempts.
For being an all-around terror and leading C.R. North to its first league crown since 2006, McIlwain, is The Inquirer's Southeastern Pennsylvania football player of the year.
McIlwain, who will enroll at South Carolina on Jan. 11 and play football and baseball for the Gamecocks, was also voted Class 4A state player of the year by Pennsylvania football writers and named Gatorade's state player of the year.
On Oct. 30 against defending Continental Conference titlist Quakertown, McIlwain hit on 17 of 25 passes for 221 yards and a score. He rushed 25 times for 212 yards and five TDs.
A week later against neighboring Council Rock South, he carried 30 times for 140 yards and four TDs as the Indians clinched the league title with a 35-14 victory. He converted 20 of 25 throws for 188 yards and a score.
Last summer, McIlwain emerged as a possible first-round pick in next June's Major League Baseball draft by impressing at multiple showcase events. He was ranked 16th among top high school prospects by Baseball America earlier this month.
But after an in-home visit from new South Carolina football boss Will Muschamp on Dec. 9, McIlwain decided to stick with his plan to play two sports in Columbia and pursue a law degree.