K.J. Brent has kind of become the forgotten man on the South Carolina football team’s recruiting board.
The Marvin Ridge (N.C.) receiver was the first member of the Gamecocks’ 2011 recruiting class, committing in April. When players commit that early, they miss out on a lot of the publicity that comes in late spring when recruiting sites release their player rankings.
But that doesn’t mean Brent isn’t worthy of hype. After catching 47 passes for 740 yards as a junior, he chose the Gamecocks over Arkansas, North Carolina, N.C. State, Wake Forest, West Virginia, East Carolina, Duke, Illinois and Kentucky.
He remains firmly committed to the Gamecocks despite ongoing overtures from other programs.
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“I think their offense is the best fit for me, seeing as how they run a spread offense with many receivers that are my size, my speed and my kind of build,” Brent said. “Overall, out of all the offers that I got, South Carolina was the place I wanted to go. They wanted me there. I didn’t want to go to a place that didn’t want me or didn’t know if they wanted me yet.”
Brent figures to slide into a role with the Gamecocks similar to the one he fills for Marvin Ridge. He’s been a split end throughout high school, and USC has pegged him to play that position.
Once Brent gets into an SEC weight and conditioning program, Marvin Ridge coach Scott Chadwick believes he could become a quality possession receiver.
“He’s the classic big receiver,” Chadwick said. “He has great size and uses his hands very well. Actually, he has great hands. He probably has the best hands of any kid I’ve ever coached. He knows how to use his size to get open and knows how to use his size even when he’s covered. And he also runs great routes.
“He’s probably not a track star out there, but everything else he does awful well.”
The 6-foot-4, 185-pounder has seven catches for 139 yards and a touchdown in two games this season.
Brent was expecting to put up bigger numbers, but the Mavericks’ two opponents have used bracket coverage on him, allowing his fellow receivers to flourish. He also has been dealing with a back injury that has limited him in practice and games.
Still, he’s a dominant prep receiver, showing the ability to outjump and outmuscle nearly any defender.
“He’s the kind of guy that in that offense will catch a lot of balls,” Chadwick said of USC’s scheme. “He’s going to be great at those intermediate routes that they run, and he’s going to be a guy that’s great in the red zone. Probably the best kid I’ve ever coached down in the red zone.
“He’s not a guy that’s going to take a dump route and go 90 yards. He’s not that kind of guy, but he’s a guy that’s going to catch a lot of balls and be a great compliment to those inside, speed slot guys.”
The biggest concern recruiting analysts have with Brent is his lack of SEC-level speed. Though he seldom fails to come down with a jump ball, he doesn’t regularly race past defenders. Will that be a detriment at the next level?
“My hands and my route running are what I bring to the table,” Brent said. “I’m working on my strength and my speed.
“I bring 110 percent. I’m going to do whatever I can to bring an SEC championship or a national championship.”