DILLON, S.C. – Dillon’s Ahmari Huggins-Bruce caught a 99-yard touchdown pass in the 2017 state final that the Wildcats won.
“I always told my friends that when I got to the ninth grade, I want to score in the state championship game,” he said. “I was just like running to the end zone on that play like, ‘I’ve just got to score!’”
The 6-foot, 163-pound junior, however, thinks he knows a way: winning another state championship. After the Wildcats lost in last year’s state final, there’s nothing more Huggins-Bruce wants than another chance.
So when quarterback Jay Lester throws it, Huggins-Bruce makes sure he’s a target Lester can count on. With 46 catches for 938 yards and 12 touchdowns, Huggins-Bruce has certainly proved that.
“Every time I touch the ball, I want to make a big play happen,” Huggins-Bruce said. “I know I’ll get the ball a lot. So, when I get it, I know I’ve got to make a play. And every time I get the ball, I try to get another first down, move the chains.”
Huggins-Bruce, however, started football as a quarterback who could run it outside and during sweeps. But when he got to the eighth grade, his size let him know if he wanted to play college football, he needed to change to receiver.
But his days at quarterback certainly made the transition easier.
“It’s easier to play receiver after you’ve played quarterback,” Huggins-Bruce said. “You can see more than just someone who has just played quarterback.”
Although Huggins-Bruce is making plays at receiver, colleges are recruiting him as an athlete. He said he has offers from schools like Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Appalachian State, West Virginia, Syracuse, Duke, Coastal Carolina, Louisville and Wake Forest.
His academics are just as impressive with a 3.4 grade point average.
As the Wildcats prepare for their Class 3A lower-state semifinal game Friday at Gilbert, Huggins-Bruce remembers a preseason talk he had with Lester.
“He told me it’s his last year, and this is my next-to-last year. So, this is his last chance at another title,” he said. “So, we knew we have to run it up. I like how he can run and throw. He’s a dual-threat quarterback, for sure. And he can throw to me anytime because he knows I’ve got his back. And he’s got mine.”
Huggins-Bruce said one key to Friday will be his mental approach.
“I’ve got to stay positive,” he said. “I can’t really let anybody get in my head. I just want to be out there, believing I can do anything I can do. When I have that positive momentum, I don’t feel like I can be stopped.”