Before Dorman High’s defensive linemen took the field Thursday for their joint practice with the Carolina Panthers, they got a surprise visit from a big-name – and big-bodied – guest.
Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers, all 6-7 and 295 pounds of him, spoke with the high school players for about 10 minutes before practice. He asked about Dorman’s biggest rival (Spartanburg High) and season opener (Fort Dorchester, Aug. 18), and told them he played at North Carolina with a former Dorman player.
This is the second year in a row the Panthers have practiced with a local high school team. Dorman, a football power in the Spartanburg area, has four of its former players in NFL camps this summer – including Tampa Bay wide receiver Adam Humphries.
Panthers veteran DE Charles Johnson and former defensive tackle Dwan Edwards also interacted with Dorman’s defensive linemen.
Johnson, noting that Dorman’s offensive and defensive teams had different colored jerseys, told them players at his small school in central Georgia only had one set of practice jerseys.
Edwards, who retired after the 2015 season and is coaching his son’s eighth-grade team, gave the Dorman kids a pep talk about teamwork.
But the big draw for the 17- and 18-year-olds was meeting Peppers, who shook hands with all the Dorman defensive linemen and their coaches after speaking with them.
“It was pretty cool to meet someone just that big. He’s humongous,” said Ahren Crump, a senior. “I’ve seen him on Madden or on TV. But he’s huge. It was just crazy.”