ST. MATTHEWS - Intrigue and mystery often surround the recruitment of the top high school football players.
Not for Brandon Golson, the Shrine Bowl linebacker from Calhoun County High.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Golson accepted his intial offer from South Carolina defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson after a June camp, and he never wavered over the next seven months.
Wednesday he made that commitment official with his signature at center court of the Calhoun County gym, where a total of five Saints signed scholarship papers, including All-American offensive lineman Eric Mack, who made a high-profile late switch from USC to Auburn.
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That wasn’t the case for Golson, who is ranked No. 76 nationally among outside linebackers by Rivals and No. 20 overall in South Carolina by SuperPrep.
“I’m excited to sign (with USC). It’s like a dream come true. This is my chance,” Golson said.
He liked the company he’s keeping as well.
“It’s a great class,” he said.
That class includes All-American running back Marcus Lattimore of Byrnes High.
“I was happy about that,” Golson said.
He hopes to make an impact on the other side of the ball, where he believes he is versatile enough to play defensive end, linebacker or safety.
“I’m an athlete, I can play every position,” he said.
Calhoun County coach Walt Wilson said no matter where Golson plays - although it’s most likely to be outside linebacker or safety - the Gamecocks have pulled off a steal. After he got Johnson to take a look at Golson in a camp setting, Johnson was immediately sold.
“Brandon came in there and did what I knew he could do,” Wilson said. “Coach Johnson told coach (Shane) Beamer, ‘I’ve got to have him.’ And Brandon told me right after that, ‘If they offer, I’ll take it.’ I think he got offered before he made it back home.”
From that point on, although a number of schools checked to see if his commitment remained firm, Golson kept his word to the Gamecocks.
“The kid never swayed. There wasn’t ever a thought in his mind to change,” Wilson said. “Once he made the decision, he stood by it. This was a match made in heaven.”
Just as happy as Golson and his coach was his mother, Angie Bowman, who beamed as he signed.
“He made his own decision. It was very important to him. I like that he’s close and I can still be a mother to him,” she said. “From day one, we had many other colleges call, but he always said, ‘USC, USC, USC.’ ”