When one speaks to Rick Sandidge, he doesn’t seem like the sort who wants to bask in the attention that comes with the college football recruiting process.
The Concord, N.C., defensive tackle is soft-spoken and doesn’t say all that much. When he and his family talked about the recruiting process, they described it as something that came with a lot of stress, between calls, camps, visits and everything else.
Players not interested in that side of it often commit early, and this year they could’ve signed early to get the process over with faster.
But Sandidge didn’t. He took his recruitment to the end, finally picking South Carolina a few days before Wednesday’s National Signing Day. So why did he approach it that way?
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“I just wanted to make sure the decision was right,” Sandidge said. “It was right that day.”
Sandidge spoke a little about his decision process, how he ended up joining the Gamecocks’ haul of 2018 blue-chip recruits, spurning Georgia and North Carolina at the end. His family has hosted six Bulldogs coaches a week before signing day, and then five Gamecocks coaches the Saturday before.
Then the pressure came off a little, the family could step back and process, and, from that, the choice came.
“We were just relaxed on Monday,” Sandidge said. “We talked about it on Monday. And then, bang! South Carolina.”
He described an early-morning call with Will Muschamp, where the coach’s enthusiastic response had him a little shocked in a drowsy moment. There were difficult calls to the other coaches, letting them know he wouldn’t end up at their schools.
One factor settled with him as he made his choice. He was asked point-blank if it was something that had been lingering for a while, a lean that got stronger and stronger, but he said it just crystallized right at the end.
“It was that gut feeling, really,” Sandidge said. “Like I felt at home.”
His parents, Rick Sr. and Keshia, said they also felt the stress of the process. There were days where he seemed to like North Carolina or Georgia more, they said. Rick Sandidge Sr. said the past two months were about giving every school its chance and being fair to all of them.
Even if it meant some indecisiveness.
“We were on a roller coaster ride from Day 1,” Keshia Sandidge said. “We never knew where he was going. I think it boiled down on Sunday. But at that point, prior to that, we were up and down, up and down.
“We just did not know.”
On Monday the coaches knew. On Wednesday, the rest of the world.
Sandidge Jr. admitted the challenge ahead – going to school, fighting for playing time at the next level, adapting to college – will bring its own stresses. But Wednesday, with his decision made and the spotlight of recruiting off him, much of that seems to lift away.
“Just happy to get it over with,” Rick Sandidge Jr. said. “Over the stress of that really. You just don’t know how relaxed I am right now.”