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Panthers sign McIlwain

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Former IL star signed to team’s practice squad

By Robert Howey

  
 

    

 

Former Indian Land High School football star Kamaal McIlwain is back in the National Football League.

McIlwain, who spent a brief stint with the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints, was signed by the Carolina Panthers’ practice squad Tuesday, Dec. 11.

McIlwain was cut by New Orleans last August after spending the preseason with the Saints, who like the Panthers are members of the NFC South. McIlwain, who was released by the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 2, 2011, signed with the New Orleans Saints and was placed on the team’s practice squad.

“This is a wonderful chance for Kamaal,” said Indian Land head football coach and athletic director Michael Mayer. “The big key is that he’s kept in shape and kept his head in the game for any opportunity to return to the game.

“I hope he can stick and stay and make the most of this chance with the Panthers,” Mayer said.

McIlwain was released by the Falcons’ following their final 2011 preseason game, a 21-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the Georgia Dome on Sept. 1.

McIlwain, at 5-10, 175 pounds, was signed by the Falcons as a college free agent on July 26, 2011, out of Newberry College.

In his final preseason game with the Falcons, McIlwain had an interception to halt a Ravens’ drive and returned the pick 44 yards. He had three tackles during the Falcons’ preseason.

In his final season at Newberry College, McIlwain had 25 tackles – 20 of them solo – and two interceptions. The 2010 preseason All-South Atlantic Conference selection also averaged 33 yards on kick returns, with an 80-yard return in the Wolves’ final game with Wingate.

McIlwain was an All-SAC second-team selection as a junior, as well as a DAKTRONICS All-Super Region Two second-team pick, Don Hansen’s Football Gazette All-Super Region Two second-team selection and All-SAC first-team choice during his sophomore season.

While at Newberry, McIlwain had 93 tackles, six interceptions, 24 pass break-ups, two fumble recoveries, four blocked kicks and two touchdowns.

When McIlwain capped his Newberry College career, the Wolves head coach was Lancaster County native Todd Knight and the college’s defensive coordinator was Stephen Flynn. Knight and Flynn played high school football at Buford High School.

In his Indian Land High football career, McIlwain was named All-Region III-A, The Lancaster News Player of the Year and Class A all-state. 

In his senior football season at IL, McIlwain played in the 2005 North-South all-star football game.

Prior to the 2011 season when Warriors’ football star Rondreas Truesdale was selected to the annual North-South All-Star football game in Myrtle Beach, McIlwain was the last IL player selected to play in the North-South All-Star game.

McIlwain played four seasons on the Indian Land varsity football team.

In 2005, he led the IL team to an 11-2 record and the third-round of the Class A playoffs (school records). He ran for 1,082 yards on 149 carries and scored nine touchdowns. McIlwain had 15 catches for 278 yards and four scores. He also had a kickoff return and two punt returns for touchdowns. He made 55 tackles with five interceptions and nine broken up passes.

McIlwain also wrestled and ran track for the Warriors. He was the first Warriors’ athlete chosen for the North-South all-star contests in football and wrestling.

McIlwain, a 2006 ILHS graduate, received his undergraduate degree at Newberry College in December 2010.