Quarterback commit Brandon McIlwain isn’t having second thoughts about coming to South Carolina despite Steve Spurrier announcing his departure on Tuesday. Instead, McIlwain is working hard to keep the Gamecocks’ recruiting class together.
The highest-ranked player in South Carolina’s class told The State on Tuesday night that he has reached out to fellow USC commits and is trying to make sure everyone is on the same page about joining him in Columbia.
“I love South Carolina. It’s a place that feels like home to me and it’s a place that’s treated me extremely well since the beginning of my recruitment,” McIlwain said. “I’m excited for my future there, so I want to do everything I can to help South Carolina become the best that we can be, whether that’s being the leader in recruiting and making sure everyone keeps a cool head, or if it’s reaching out to different recruits and showing them what I love about South Carolina. It’s extremely important to me.”
McIlwain, from Newtown, Pa., said he was surprised to find out Monday night that Spurrier would be resigning, but he is ready to see what former offensive line coach Shawn Elliott can do as the team’s interim head coach. Moving G.A. Mangus to offensive coordinator is also a good move for the Gamecocks, he said.
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“It was a little shocking and obviously I was a little disappointed. I was extremely excited to play for a legendary coach like Coach Spurrier, but I think the changes that South Carolina has made in moving Coach Mangus to offensive coordinator and moving Coach Elliott to head coach are extremely exciting,” he said. “I have a great relationship with them, too, and I’m excited to see where they’re going to move this program for the rest of the year.”
According to McIlwain, most of USC’s commits are part of a group text message. He has encouraged everyone to be patient and let things play out before making a decision about their future.
“We’re excited to see what’s going to happen. Obviously we all love South Carolina and we all are extremely excited to play there,” he said. “I think it’s a group that just wants to see where this is all going. We’re trying to make sure no one makes real rash decisions and figures everything out before making any kind of decision.”
Linebacker P.J. Blue announced his decommitment from the Gamecocks shortly after the Spurrier news broke Monday night. Asheville, N.C., offensive lineman Pete Leota is among those who have declared that they remain fully committed to USC. Several, including Conway receiver Bryan Edwards and Greensboro, N.C., running back C.J. Freeman, said they remain committed but will continue to weigh their options.
McIlwain has led Council Rock North to a 3-3 record, including a 2-1 conference record. Through six games he has passed for 1,181 yards and 15 touchdowns with five interceptions and rushed for 578 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“We’ve dropped a couple of games. We’ve had a lot of tough games, but we still hold the key to our future,” he said. “If we keep playing well and we keep playing the way that we know we can play, we still can win the league and make it to the playoffs and accomplish what we want to this season.”
McIlwain is still planning to enroll early, assuming everything gets worked out with his school district and he is allowed to do so.