There was little doubt that Malik Young was going to commit to the Gamecocks when the scholarship offer came May 21.
Young, a 6-foot-4, 285-pound offensive lineman from Woodmont High in Piedmont, had family ties to the Columbia area and South Carolina was his favorite school even before the offer.
Young, his parents and Woodmont coach Jason Farmer drove to USC on May 28 for a campus tour. Young knew he was going to commit but wanted to make his pledge in person to recruiter and future position coach Shawn Elliott.
Young ran a 4.99 40-yard dash at the 2012 Charlotte Nike SPARQ Combine - the third-fastest for an offensive lineman there - and was named to the All-Combine Team.
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He first made a connection with Elliott at a USC camp in 2012.
Young primarily played left tackle for the Wildcats last season but will move to right guard this season as the team runs the ball more. He projects to play guard for the Gamecocks as well. He also hopes to play on the defensive line some during his senior year.
Young is rated a three-star prospect by Scout and ESPN. SC State had offered him about a week before South Carolina.
Why was it important for you to commit in person?
I didn't want to make it over the phone and say, 'Hey coach, I'm committed to you.' I wanted to be man to man, face to face, to say, 'Coach I want to come to your school.'
As you made your way down I-385 and I-26, you knew you would commit, right?
I knew I was going to commit. I talked to my parents about it the day before. I didn't know how I was going to say it. During the visit, everything went good.
And you made the pledge to Elliott - how did that go?
He asked me how I felt. After that, he said, 'If this is the school you want to go to, you should commit right now.'
Why South Carolina?
That's where my mom's side of the family is from. That's been my favorite school since I was in the ninth grade, the school I started liking. It's my second home away from home for me because of my aunts and uncles, some good family down there.
What do you like about the program?
I love the fans. The fans are crazy. Coach Elliott is a very good coach. Coach Farmer said he couldn't pick a more perfect coach for me. They have a football family down there. Their players and all their coaches seem to like each other.
What about Elliott is impressive?
How he looks you straight in the eye and tells you how things are, straight up. He doesn't beat around the bush. He's a real straightforward person.
You flew under the recruiting radar. What was that like?
I wasn't stressing on it. I just wanted to work hard so I could get my first offer so I could play in college. I really wanted to go to a division one school, and South Carolina is an extra plus because that's my favorite school.
What makes you a good player?
My athleticism, my size, speed and strength - all that combined on the football field.
What kind of competitor are you?
I don't like to lose. I hate to lose. I try my hardest to do what I can for the offensive line so we can win the game.
Woodmont was 1-10 last year. How is that motivation to do better this season?
I don't want to leave my high school career with a losing record. I want to set the standard for the next upcoming seniors and other players so they can come up and turn Woodmont football around.
If I interviewed your teammates, what would they say to describe you?
They'd say funny, a little bit goofy, a hard worker.
How do you think playing right guard this season will help for the future?
Seeing as how athletic I am and how we pull our guards almost every play, I get out in space and that's where I'm good at. It helps a lot (when blocking a linebacker or defensive end).
What makes you good at getting out in space?
How fast I am on my feet and my explosiveness. When I pull and I hit somebody, it's easy. I can knock them down and get a pancake easily.
Your coach said you've gotten a lot stronger over the past year.
We had a weight program [before] and not everybody was coming every day. It wasn't mandatory. Now you have to come to 22 workouts to be on varsity. I went from a very low bench around 200 to benching over 300 right now.
How does that translate to the football field?
It translates a lot. It makes it a lot easier to block people.
What do you need to work on your senior season?
Just get stronger, better and mentally, learn how to do pay better attention to detail more.