Lovejoy, Ga., cornerback Rico McWilliams turned to a former Lovejoy player and Gamecock in his preparations for his first summer at South Carolina.
McWilliams, who enrolled this summer at USC, worked with Chris Hail, a wide receiver who played for the Gamecocks after graduating from Lovejoy in 2006.
“He’s given me great advice,” McWilliams said. “I’ve got to know how to handle adversity. I’m on my own now. I’ve got to know how to handle that. He’s told me to go there and do what I’m supposed to do and everything will play out.”
McWilliams is among five defensive back signees in the class of 2012 who are looking to crack the depth chart this season.
A consensus three-star recruit, he flew under the radar after injury slowed his junior season. Analysts say he is physical and competitive, and he helped his team this season to the state championship game at the Georgia Dome.
“I really love Rico McWilliams,” said Rivals.com analyst Keith Niebuhr said. “He just makes play after play after play. He’s a hard-nosed kid who will get in there and get dirty.”
McWilliams, who says his best 40-yard dash time is either a 4.37 or 4.38, has stayed in shape the last few months of high school by working out in the mornings and running track in the afternoons. He competed in the 4-by-100 and 4-by-400 events.
He won’t compete in track at South Carolina but says it helped him in his preparations for college.
“It teaches me how to run,” he said. “It keeps my stamina up. We’re on the field a long time. My stamina should be good with all the track I’ve been doing.”
McWilliams is hoping his efforts in high school and this summer at USC translate into early playing time.
“I’m going to do whatever coaches want me to do,” he said. “I’m going to try to get on the field as quick as possible. I want to make a great impact. That’s the main thing.”