South Carolina begins 2015 with three prospects in the fold for the Class of 2016, including quarterback Brandon McIlwain of Newtown, Pa., who announced for the Gamecocks last week.
McIlwain (6-1, 210) is considered a four-star prospect and the nation’s No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in the 2016 class, according to 247Sports' Composite rankings. He was recruited by G.A. Mangus and plans to enroll at USC in January 2016
This season McIlwain passed for 2,100 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushed for 1,100 yards and 20 touchdowns.
McIlwain went in-depth about his decision here:
“South Carolina has been a place that has felt like home for me since the beginning. I’ve talked to Coach Mangus and Coach Spurrier and they’ve been very truthful to me since they started recruiting me my freshman year. I’m the only quarterback they offered in my class. It made a big impact on me that they would put the time and investment into me. It made me feel like I’m the quarterback they really want.
Also, obviously my family with my grandma living in Irmo and my uncle living in Greenville and some of my other family living around the area and the South, it seemed liked a perfect fit for me.
Also, their offense. They have a great offense that fits how I play. I’ve seen with Connor Shaw with a quarterback that could pass and run. In all aspects it fit what I wanted in a school.”
That freshman year, when GA Mangus became involved with you, how did he find out about you?
“My freshman year my dad and one of his co-workers sent my highlight to Coach Mangus. He saw it and got back to them and was very impressed. He reached out to my coach and I got in contact with him, with him saying he wanted to start the recruiting process with me.”
How important was it for him to make that contact so early?
“It was definitely very important to me. He was one of the first coaches to see my potential and believe in what I can do and to offer me. It made a big impression on me. He stayed true with that through the whole recruiting process. I was the only quarterback he offered, which is something he said he would do from the beginning. His truthfulness really impacted me and was a big part in my decision to go to South Carolina.”
Did you tell anybody at USC prior to Dec. 31?
“I told Coach Mangus about a week earlier.”
What was his reaction when he got the word?
“He was extremely happy. The first thing he said was, ‘You’re the man.’ He was excited that I was ready to get it started and to commit to South Carolina. He was happy that I was doing it before the Army All-American combine. I wanted to start reaching out to players during the combine and get other players interested in South Carolina as well and hopefully get some more great athletes and great players to come play with me at South Carolina.”
Have your parents or coaches talked to you about handling fans’ expectations?
“Throughout everything, starting at the beginning of my recruiting, my parents, my family and my coaches have been very influential to me and have helped me through everything, keeping me level-headed. I know they’ll keep doing that. I have talked to my coaches and family what it’s going to be like at the next level. I know it’s going to be different. I also know the coaches at South Carolina are going to have me prepared for that. Coach Spurrier is such an amazing coach. He’s been coaching for a long time at a very high level. Him and Coach Mangus will have me prepared for everything I need to be prepared for.
Do you consider yourself better at passing or rushing?
“I’m definitely a passer first. That’s what I do. I’m a quarterback. I love to throw the ball. When the feet come into play and when the running comes into play is being able to keep a play going and extending the play to be able to allow the receivers a couple extra seconds to get open. That’s a lot of times when big plays happen. The receivers are so athletic and dynamic that a cornerback can’t cover them for five, six seconds down the field. They end up slipping free and all I have to do is get them the ball so they can make a play. That’s what Connor Shaw did a great job of. He didn’t force the ball. He just created things with his feet and allowed plays to carry on for a few more seconds so that his receivers like Ace Sanders and Bruce Ellington could get open and make big plays.”
What can you tell us about your conversations with Coach Spurrier and what he’s said to you about his coaching future?
“To me it doesn’t seem like he’s going anywhere. I haven’t had any promises or anything like that. He loves coaching and he’s such a great coach. My goal is to push South Carolina and the team to the next level to SEC championships and national championships so he won’t want to leave. I’m not as much worried about exactly what he says. He has said he would be there for four or five more years. That would be about through my tenure there. I believe that if we get South Carolina to where the goal really is, through recruiting and working hard and doing all the extra things, in the film room and on the practice fields, I know we can bring South Carolina to SEC championships and national championships. I doubt Coach Spurrier is going to want to leave any time soon.”