Dexter Wideman will go down as a “flip.”
That’s recruiting parlance for a player who is verbally committed to one school until he pulls a signing day shocker by inking with a different school. It doesn’t apply here, though, says Saluda coach Stewart Young.
“I think he knew where he wanted to go the whole time,” Young said Wednesday afternoon after Wideman signed a national letter of intent with South Carolina during a ceremony at his school.
Wideman had been listed for six months as a Florida State verbal commitment, but by the end of the process nobody, not even the Seminoles, put much stock in that.
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“He committed a little too quickly and didn’t really know how to get out of it,” Young said. “He’s a very approachable, likeable kid who doesn’t like to tell anybody no, and it caught up to him in the end a little bit.”
Wideman’s Wednesday morning phone call to tell the Seminoles “no” was tough on him, Young said.
“Lord yes, very hard,” the coach said, “’but he did it, and I am proud of him.”
The next call, to Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier and lead recruiter G.A. Mangus, was much easier.
“They were ready to celebrate,” Wideman said. “It’s really been nerve-wracking, just all the phone calls and stuff, but I know in the end it’s going to pay off.”
The 6-foot-3, 268-pound Wideman is rated a four-star prospect and the 14th-best defensive tackle in the country, according to a 247Sports.com composite analysis of all the major recruiting services. However, he might not be a defensive tackle at South Carolina, Young said.
“I projected him as a tackle into his junior year, but after watching his pass rushing skills improve, and with (South Carolina’s) needs at end, I think he’ll be groomed to be an end. He runs a sub-4.7 40. I’ve seen him chase quarterbacks down 70 yards during games. He’s got the tools.”
Wideman said he believes he will play next year regardless of the position.
“I am going to work my butt off during the summer time, and I will be playing next year,” he said.
That will require that he qualifies academically, and there is “a definite chance” of that, Young said.
Wideman is optimistic he’ll make the grade, he said.
“My grades are good,” he said.
Wideman managed to keep his final choice a secret until his 3 p.m. announcement, which came in front of a packed gymnasium at Saluda High, where his classmates cheered wildly after Wideman ducked under a podium and came out with a South Carolina hat and gloves.
“I did a lot of thinking and decided I wanted to stay close to home,” he said. “I felt like I was better at USC.”