Eric Douglas is looking forward to his official visit to South Carolina this weekend with a renewed purpose.
That’s because the Mallard Creek (Charlotte) offensive lineman and Gamecocks commitment will meet his new position coach, Eric Wolford, for the first time. The two spoke this week ahead of Douglas’ visit.
“He checked in to see how I was doing and said he liked the versatility I possess by moving from tackle to center,” Douglas said, “and said he can’t wait to have face-to-face contact on my official this weekend.”
Wolford is South Carolina’s offensive line coach for a second stint, and he joins the Gamecocks just in time for the last push toward National Signing Day. And he’ll be busy.
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USC has three offensive linemen locked in for the 2017 class and is expected to sign as many as two more at the position.
“He’s going to have to build relationships in a hurry and lean on some connections he has,” said Woody Wommack, Southeast recruiting analyst for Rivals. “He’s going to have to be working the phones, hitting the trail and using some connections has has to fill those spots down the stretch.”
Wolford has been an assistant offensive line coach for the San Francisco 49ers for the last two years, but he has plenty of experience with recruiting. His 19 seasons as a college coach included time as head coach at Youngstown State. He served as the Gamecocks’ run game coordinator and offensive line coach in 2009.
Wolford spent part of this week on the phone making a first impression with prospects in the fold and targets still on the board.
Before his phone call, Douglas helped educate himself about Wolford through social media.
“I’ve been reading on Twitter,” he said. “I saw he coached at Youngstown and coached for the 49ers. Most of the people that he’s coach have said it’s a great hire, saying he has a good knowledge of the game. That’s good to hear.”
Wolford’s to-do list this week, Wommack said, likely included film review on Class of 2017 prospects and a study of evaluations the staff has already made. USC’s assistant coaches will be on road much the next three weeks to see recruits now that the dead period that prevented face-to-face contact is over. The Gamecocks will have three weekends to host official visitors.
It’s possible a new target or two could pop up.
“I’m sure he’s going to come in and maybe he gets fresh eyes on somebody that he hasn’t seen before and that he likes, and maybe a couple new names emerge,” Wommack said, “but I would expect him to keep the guys they’ve already been working on. He’s at South Carolina, kids want to play in the SEC and there are kids out there on the market.”
Shawn Elliott offered and recruited Douglas to South Carolina before landing the head coaching job at Georgia State. It’s Wolford who’s now working to build the Gamecocks’ future on the offensive line.
“They say he has a good fire under him,” Douglas said. “I’ll be ready to work for him.”
Eric Wolford recruiting to-do list
1. Review film and staff evaluations of committed prospects and established targets.
2. Meet current commitments Eric Douglas and Dennis Daley. (Summie Carlay is enrolled and on campus.)
3. Get to know USC’s remaining offensive line targets and help decide which ones are top priorities for the final spots.
4. Identify and offer any new targets for the 2017 class.
5. Work ahead for 2018 and 2019 classes as much as time allows.