On the afternoon of April 30, Goose Creek tight end Kalan Ritchie was on the verge of making a verbal commitment to play football for South Carolina.
He needed a little nudge. This is why Bryson Allen-Williams committed early to the Gamecocks, so that he could, cell phone by cell phone and Twitter post by Twitter post, provide that nudge.
Allen-Williams, a linebacker from Cedar Grove High outside of Atlanta, is on a mission to get good players to join him in Columbia, and he reaches out to as many recruits as he can on the phone and through social media. Two weeks ago, he took a photo of South Carolina’s tight end depth chart, which will have plenty of room among the lower classes in 2015 and texted it to Ritchie, who was worried about playing time in college.
Ritchie called the Gamecocks’ coaching staff later that night to say he was in the fold, growing Allen-Williams’ welcoming committee by one.
“He’s going to help me recruit, too,” Allen-Williams said. “We are going to try to get other top guys join us. I feel like South Carolina is a couple players away from a national championship. I feel like I can be one of those guys who can help them win a national championship.”
Allen-Williams is a four-star linebacker who had scholarship offers from more than 35 schools, including Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, Florida State, UCLA and Southern Cal.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give him a 9.5 for a high school player. He does all the things we want him to do,” Cedar Grove coach Raymond Bonner said. “I have been really fortunate to have coached some pretty good ones, and he’s one of the best. He’s in a different class because he’s so smart along with being a good football player. He’s smart and has great character. Some of the other ones might have had all three, but they didn’t show it like Bryson shows it.”
Allen-Williams has been high on South Carolina’s list since last summer, when he attended football camp in Columbia and notched three interceptions against Elijah Hood, a five-star recruit who has committed to Notre Dame.
Gamecocks defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward told Allen-Williams that day “You are going to be my guy,” Allen-Williams said.
Allen-Williams had 163 tackles, 35 for loss, in the past two seasons playing mostly at defensive end. He’ll play linebacker this season, the position he is expected to play in college.
“I think he’s going to hit one more growth spurt because his dad is a tall guy,” Bonner said. “He will be able to play like a rush guy or a stand up linebacker, whichever one you want him to be.
“South Carolina was the first people who gave a big push. I guess Lorenzo was seeing the same things I was seeing in him. I would tell all recruiters, ‘That’s a good one right there.’ If you watch any film on him, you can tell. Two clips, and you already know.”
Allen-Williams’ decision was clinched, he said, during a visit to Williams-Brice Stadium for the Georgia game last year, in which the No. 6 Gamecocks trounced the No. 5 Bulldogs 35-7.
“I went to the Georgia game and just fell in love with the atmosphere,” he said. “Coach Ward is a great guy. (linebackers coach Kirk) Botkin is also a great guy. When I get to South Carolina, I feel the Carolina pride just come over me. I just love it there.”
Having Allen-Williams spread that feeling is the goal of every college recruiter, USC recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier Jr. said.
“Normally, you can get a young man and say, ‘If you like South Carolina, for you to commit to us and become a Gamecock makes it important for you to start recruiting the rest of our class. The rest of the class wants to know you’re part of this team, and this team will be better if you commit now,’ ” Spurrier Jr. said. “Usually they get a feel for that too. They want to be part of this class and make sure the rest of their class is pretty good.”