Hundreds of fans gathered at the Wofford Football practice field to watch the Carolina Panthers prepare for the upcoming season at this year’s open training camp.
Number 9 jerseys swarmed the college campus to support the team’s newest franchise quarterback, Bryce Young.
Head Coach Frank Reich named Young the starting quarterback on Wednesday after managing the playbook and leading the offense quicker than expected.
Those small moments have added to his lofty expectations to bring the Panthers back to the playoffs.
The 22-year-old signal-caller said receiving high expectations “isn’t something new” to him, but he doesn’t want them to get to his head.
“For me, it’s making sure I take things day by day. It doesn’t change my approach. I want to keep improving, keep growing,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
NFL analysts and reporters have noticed how the rookie has adjusted to the starting role.
Young hasn’t been fazed by mistakes and continues to show leadership, the Charlotte Observer reported.
QCity Metro spoke with a number of fans who expressed their excitement for the rookie quarterback and the team ahead of the season.
Nate has been on a mission since his first training camp visit in 2021.
The 14-year-old Spartanburg, S.C. native brings his football for players to sign after practice.
He’s been successful each visit, earning at least a dozen signatures from former and current players. Former Panthers star DJ Moore was his very first signature.
Yesterday’s visit saw signatures from Shi Smith, John Hekker and Marquis Haynes. Bryce Young is at the top of his autograph wish list, he said.
“I plan to get as many as I can, so I can fill the ball up,” he said. “I’ll put it up in a case to display in my room once I’m done.”
‘Can’t even see’
Mary and Edward Smith and their grandson Tate were headed to Costco when they remembered the Panthers’ training camp was happening.
The Laurens, S.C. residents had already taken an hour’s drive from home, so they decided to treat their grandson with a visit while they were in the area.
Edward, 77, complained that his view sitting on the hill wasn’t the best since the players were practicing on a field farther away from fans.
“You can’t even see what’s going on,” he said.
Though he doesn’t plan to return to training camp, he’ll continue to root for the Panthers.
“I’m hopeful for the Panthers, especially with the new quarterback,” Edward said.
Fandom has no age minimum
Panthers fans come in all shapes, sizes and ages. Four-year-old Gabriella traveled from Atlanta with her family to attend training camp.
Supporting from day one
Claysie has been a Panther fan since 1995 but has never attended a training camp.
As a teacher in Georgia, she decided to “treat herself” by visiting Spartanburg and watching her favorite team practice.
She said she misses the days when Jake Delhomme and Cam Newton led the team, saying that brought a strong leadership presence, but she has faith that Young can do the same.
“Bryce Young is going to bring new energy to the team,” he said.
Supporting on good and bad days
LaChelle Walker has been a season ticket holder since 2015. She has supported the team in their Super Bowl run and losing seasons.
Walker said showing support, even during the not-so-great seasons, is like a long-term investment for the team’s success.
“I just want to be there for them,” she said. “It’s hard to do what they do.”
She has high hope for this year and believes the team will make a playoff run.
“I look forward to seeing what our team can do. We have a young team, a new coach and a new quarterback,” she said.
From College to Pro
Paris said she was impressed with Bryce Young’s performance during training camp so far, mainly for his deep throws, she said.
“I hope that arm talent is shown in the real games,” she said.
Last year, she wouldn’t have considered herself a big Panthers fan, if she was an NFL fan at all, she said.
Paris typically watches college football, where she first saw Young playing at the University of Alabama.
She said she knew the Panthers would draft Young with the top overall pick. As a Charlotte resident, she plans to follow his NFL journey.
“Hopefully, the success he had at Alabama carries over with the Panthers,” she said.