When offensive tackle Will Sport committed to South Carolina last week, the first reaction in many recruiting circles was, “Who?”
The Gamecocks obviously saw something they liked in the Pace (Fla.) senior, but he was relatively unknown before pledging to USC over offers from Southern Mississippi, Central Florida, South Florida, Florida International and Florida Atlantic.
USC has had success with prep offensive lineman from similar situations. Starting center T.J. Johnson has anchored USC’s offensive line the past two seasons, and though he was more widely publicized than Sport, he was still considered a project who would take several seasons to mature out of Aynor High School.
The Gamecocks likely aren’t expecting immediate contributions from Sport, but he has the frame and enough athleticism to perhaps become a steal in this recruiting class. After gaining 20 pounds in the offseason, Sport stands 6-foot-6, 280.
“I think he’s going to get better and better every year,” Pace coach Mickey Lindsey said. “He’s going to keep getting bigger every year. His strength will get better. He’s a hard-nosed kid with all the intangibles, and he’s going to work to get better.
“I think South Carolina sees potential in him.”
Perhaps the only knock on Sport’s ability is his lack of great speed. He runs the 40-yard dash in the 5.5 range, nearly three-tenths of a second slower than many college coaches would like. Still, he’s quick and strong enough to be a solid pass and run blocker.
Sport has a long, lean frame, so his coach believes he’ll add 20 to 30 pounds and eventually have the ideal frame of an SEC tackle. Considering his lack of top-end quickness, Sport may develop into USC’s right tackle of the future.
“He’s probably a better pass blocker, but he’s a good run blocker also,” Lindsey said. “He’s got pretty good flexibility for a guy his size. He doesn’t mind getting dirty with it. We run the I. We’re a running football team. He’s used to run blocking, but I think he’ll be a good pass blocker, too.”
Sport was familiar with the Gamecocks, visiting campus twice last summer. He ultimately felt a connection with the school and position coach Shawn Elliott that led him to commit midway through his senior season instead of waiting to take other visits. He plans to take only one official visit to USC.
“(During the recruiting process) everyone would always tell me that when I went to that one school, it would pan out; that's where I would want to be,” Sport told the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal. “I took two visits and I felt that it was the place for me.”
Sport was the fourth offensive line commitment for the Gamecocks.
Park Vista (Fla.) tackle Mike Matulis and Georgia Military tackle Kaleb Broome both figure to play their current positions at USC. Carver (Ga.) standout Quincy McKinney will likely play guard.