It was a productive day Thursday for the Gamecocks in the state of New Jersey.
Last night St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City) defensive back Sheldon Royster made a verbal commitment to South Carolina in an announcement from his home in Woodbridge, N.J., with several relatives in attendance.
Royster, who made the decision official when he took off his fleece to reveal a South Carolina football shirt and hat, became the second New Jersey prospect to commit to the Gamecocks on the day. Earlier, Bergen Catholic (Oradell) quarterback Tanner McEvoy made his commitment.
Thursday's commitments give the Gamecocks 30 for their class.
Royster chose South Carolina over Rutgers, his home-state school. He said the final decision was made with his family this past weekend.
“I was torn between both schools,” Royster said. “Both schools are great schools, but it was a matter of how I felt. Everybody has their own opinion, but I felt that I wanted to get out of Jersey, get away and start something new.”
Part of what swayed Royster to leave home was the recruiting of G.A. Mangus, who helped create a level of comfort at South Carolina.
“Being one of the first people I met from South Carolina, he left a great first impression,” Royster said. “He made me feel comfortable. He made me feel like I can be myself around him. And after my official visit, that pretty much set it off for me. I felt comfortable around everybody; it pretty much made me feel at home. The coaching staff is a great coaching staff and I just fell in love with the school.”
Royster also cited the academic support system as a big positive for him as well.
“I thought it was great with what they’re doing,” he said. “You have your own personal tutor if you need it. You can go to them for anything and they stay on top of you about your school work and make sure you keep your grades up in order for you to accomplish your dreams.”
A 6-foot, 185 pound safety with St. Peter’s Prep, Royster is also expected to see some time at cornerback for the Gamecocks. Last season, Royster was selected as a Second Team All-State selection on defense by The (New Jersey) Star Ledger.
Injuries slowed him in 2010, but he still had more than 20 tackles and two interceptions as a senior. In 2009, Royster finished with 64 tackles, three interceptions, 393 rushing yards, 252 receiving yards and 221 kick return yards, including a 95-yard score.
“I think the world of Sheldon Royster,” Madison Square Garden network reporter Mike Quick told The Jersey Journal late last year. “If he keeps it up, he’s an NFL football player.”
Miami, Michigan, North Carolina and West Virginia were among the many other schools who offered. Royster, who made official visits to South Carolina and Rutgers, said he has no intentions of visiting any other schools before National Signing Day.
“I’m pretty much locked in,” he said. “I don’t plan on seeing any more colleges. I feel like this is the right decision. I finally came to a decision and it’s time for me to go through with it.”
Now that his decision and the long recruiting process are complete, he’s glad he can now concentrate on making a difference on the gridiron for the Gamecocks.
“After making this decision, I plan to do what I do best and play football,” he said. “Stay focused on what I want to accomplish in life and just keep God first and everything else will fall into place.”