Damani Staley picked up his first college offer from South Carolina more than a month ago.
On Wednesday, the Ridge View junior committed to the Gamecocks.
“They have been my No. 1 choice ever since they first offered me,” Staley said. “I always dreamed of going there since I was little.”
Staley’s father, Duce, was a standout at Airport High who went on to a successful college career at South Carolina and played 10 seasons in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers. He is currently the running backs coach for the Eagles.
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Damani said he and his dad talked a lot about playing at South Carolina but said his father never pushed him to play for his alma mater.
“He said it is always my choice and go to the university that I felt most comfortable with,” the younger Staley said.
Staley also has offers from East Carolina and Georgia Tech and still plans to take other visits, but Gamecocks are “No. 1 on the table.” He was impressed with new Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp and his plans for the program.
The Gamecocks are recruiting Staley, who has visited USC several times over the last month, as a standup edge pass rusher.
After having six sacks as a sophomore, Staley, a defensive end, had a breakout junior season. He was named The State’s Midlands Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder had 88 tackles and led the Midlands with 21 sacks.
Staley is the No. 16 prospect for the Class of 2017 in South Carolina, according to 247Sports. He attended the U.S. Army All-American combine in January and plans on going to other combines over the summer.
“I’m excited for him. He is definitely a leader and excited to see him develop. He has all the tools, the frame, motor and skill set. He can be special,” Ridge View coach Parry Parks said.
Staley is the second commit from Ridge View in the 2017 class. Offensive lineman Dennis Daley, who is attending Georgia Military, also has committed to the Gamecocks.
USC 2017 class commitments
▪ Dennis Daley, OL, Georgia Military/Columbia
▪ Stephen Guidry, WR, Hinds Community College (Miss.)
▪ Will Register, TE, Chapin
▪ Damani Staley, LB, Columbia
▪ Javon Kinlaw, DE, Jones County JC (Miss.)/Goose Creek