Local products Hemingway, Taylor reunite in Sugar Bowl

Two Grand Strand football products will cross paths in the  Sugar Bowl on Tuesday, but unfortunately not on the field.

Former Conway High standout Junior Hemingway, now a senior wide receiver at Michigan, and ex-Myrtle Beach High star Bruce Taylor, a junior linebacker at Virginia Tech, are headed to the Sugar Bowl to see the Wolverines and Hokies hook up in the Louisiana SuperDome.

Hemingway will be playing the final game of his college career after leading Michigan in receiving (32 catches for 636 yards) in his senior season but has a bright future in the NFL as a highly rated pro prospect.

Taylor, however, suffered a season-ending injury in October and has not recovered enough from his foot surgery to play in the bowl. He still has one more season to shine in Blacksburg.

The two met several times on the field in their high school days as key players for their teams in the Conway-Myrtle Beach Victory Bell rivalry. Hemingway played quarterback and receiver during that era, while Taylor played defensive end.

Both highly recruited players decided to go out of state to play college football. Taylor was wooed by Virginia Tech coaching icon Frank Beamer to go to Blacksburg, where he led the team in tackles the past two seasons, while Hemingway endured three different head coaches during his time in Ann Arbor.

Hemingway committing to play for Lloyd Carr, who was replaced by Rich Rodriguez, who was replaced by Brady Hoke for Hemingway’s final two seasons. He managed to adjust to the coaching carousel and the changing offensive sets to gain 1,575 receiving yards and nine touchdowns for his career.

None was bigger than his TD grab against Ohio State in the season finale to help the Wolverines beat the arch-rival Buckeyes for the first time in five seasons and secure the school’s first BCS bowl bid since 2007. He will use the Sugar Bowl as one final opportunity to impress NFL scouts but also a chance to leave a lasting legacy at Michigan.

Taylor, who is rehabbing his foot injury by running on underwater and anti-gravity treadmills, will join his team in New Orleans, albeit as a bystander. He plans to be ready for full -contact drills by next summer and to have one last injury-free season with the Hokies, opting not to declare early for the NFL draft.

“I don’t feel like I have enough games under my belt for me to make that jump,” Taylor told the Washington Post. “Anybody can put their neck out there. How they fare, though, is different. The most important thing for me is getting my degree and stuff, so I’m just working on that.

“I graduate in the spring and next year I’ll come back and I could be focused more on football and getting my body right for the next level. I don’t want to put a halfway finished piece when I go for my audition. I want to be 100 percent.”

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