Jasper Sasser likes to have the ball in his hands.
His favorite positions are receiver and running back. He also likes to return kicks.
So it came with some surprise when college recruiters showed up at Wolfson High in Jacksonville, Fla., after Sasser’s 10th grade season and started to sell him on playing as a defensive back in college.
“It was weird,” Sasser said. “I couldn’t see why so many colleges want me as a DB. I was doing so great on offense and they kept talking about DB.”
Fast forward to today, and the 6-foot-2, 195-pound South Carolina commitment has embraced his future as a cornerback or safety.
“I’ve got no problems with it,” he said. “I expect I’m going to play DB at the next level because of my size. They told me that before I committed. I’m going to work hard and get better at DB.”
Sasser has been a do-it-all player the last four years for Wolfson, playing running back, quarterback, receiver, defensive back and kick return. He played defense the most during his 10th grade season and figures that he caught recruiters’ eyes with five interceptions “and a lot of tackles.”
He amassed 3,187 all-purpose yards in a career that ended early after a broken foot bone in his senior season. He also excelled in basketball, averaging 22 points a game in his junior season.
Sasser runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash. That speed and his size, vision and hands will serve him well as a college defensive back, said Wolfson coach Walter Williams.
His desire to have the ball in his hands also will help him on defense, Williams said.
“You have a guy who is not only trying to defend someone from catching the ball or scoring,” Williams said. “In his mind he can intercept the ball, he can cause the fumble. And if he gets the ball, he’s not running out of bounds. He’s definitely trying to find the end zone.”
Sasser was the third pledge of South Carolina’s 2013 class. He and Dillon offensive lineman Bryce King committed on April 14, the day of USC’s spring game.
ESPN considers him a four-star prospect. He’s the 48th best at the athlete position, according to 247Sports Composite, which factor in all rankings.
Clemson was his first offer, and he chose the Gamecocks over the Tigers, NC State, Ole Miss, Stanford, Central Florida and others.
Sasser’s mother, Peggy, hoped he would stay in Florida but was OK with his choice to go to South Carolina.
“I just want to make my mama proud,” Sasser said. “It’s a must. I can’t see her sad. I’ve got to make my mama happy.”
Williams credited Sasser as being humble, active and energetic, someone who follows directions and loves to practice and compete. And he’s someone who realizes the transition to playing time in college could take time.
“He gets the big picture. He understands the process. He’s a kid that’s willing to do what he’s asked to do,” Williams said. “He’s going to work out well at South Carolina. He has the ability to grasp football concepts easily. He’ll work hard.”
Even as Sasser prepares for life as a defensive back, there’s always a chance South Carolina could approach him about a role at receiver or the return game.
“I’m going to give 100 percent effort wherever they want me,” he said. “If they need a spot to fill in, I’m going to jump in and show them I can get the job done.”