PACE, Fla. | Will Sport and his mother spent the 2010 offseason sending out highlight tapes to college football teams around the country.
This was the way that players created interest – and ultimately earned scholarships – in past decades. However, recruiting services do much of the work now, so it’s rare that a player gets discovered through such means.
However, it seems the Pace (Fla.) offensive tackle may be most responsible for his development into an SEC-caliber recruit. When he committed to the Gamecocks in October, several of the popular scouting sites didn’t even have a player page for him.
Few players slip through the cracks in the Internet age, but the 6-foot-6, 280-pounder seems to have done so – at least until he made his commitment.
Sport is an intriguing part of Shawn’s Six. The Gamecocks knew they needed to add talent and depth to the offensive line, and position coach Shawn Elliott has certainly done so, landing commitments from six players. Four of them have the potential to be college tackles.
Dating back to his days at Appalachian State, Elliott has been great at mining quality offensive linemen, often finding key contributors among players that were lightly recruited. USC is hoping that he’s done the same with Sport, who was mostly drawing interest from South Florida and Central Florida when he chose the Gamecocks.
“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.”
Sport certainly has the frame, and Lindsey believes he has all the intangibles to become a solid college performer. But he may need some seasoning to become a contributor in Columbia.
Pace utilized an I-formation, run-based offense that utilized man instead of zone blocking. Still, Sport admits he isn’t the powerful run blocker that you might expect.
“I think I’m better at run blocking,” Sport said. “I need to get stronger and work on run blocking.
“We don’t run the spread or anything like that. We run just Power-I and it was mostly run blocking. I played right tackle. I haven’t talked a whole lot about what I’ll play. I assume tackle but maybe guard. That doesn’t matter to me.”
Perhaps the biggest knock on Sport’s skill set is his lack of top-end 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. That could force him to move inside to guard, but he expects to have the chance to prove himself at tackle first.
Elliott has recruited several long, lean linemen in this class. That will allow them to add bulk in USC’s strength and conditioning program. Sport’s frame could easily hold another 20 to 30 pounds, allowing him to play at 300 pounds or heavier.
“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.”