WAXHAW, N.C. | If this turns out to be one of the greatest recruiting classes in South Carolina history, K.J. Brent will always have a special place in it.
He will have started it all.
The Marvin Ridge (N.C.) wide receiver was the first player to commit to the Gamecocks in the Class of 2011, choosing USC over North Carolina last April. At the time he also had offers from Arkansas, Duke, East Carolina, Illinois, Kentucky, N.C. State, Wake Forest and West Virginia.
Since he committed so early, Brent almost became the forgotten man in this class.
“It’s good to get it over with,” Brent said after signing with the Gamecocks. “It was fun process. When I made my decision back in April I stuck with it the whole entire year. I’m really excited to get down there in June.”
Members of the USC coaching staff have told Brent how impressed they were with his dedication to the Gamecocks.
“I’m the kind of guy that when I make my decision about something, I dedicated to it, I’m loyal to it,” Brent said. “They just kept getting better and better every time I went down there. My decision just became stronger and stronger, if possible.”
Brent, who stands 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, is the classic, big-bodied X-receiver. Though he needs to add size and strength, he is a great route runner and catches everything thrown near him. Considering his extensive work with Marvin Ridge assistant coach Nate Poole, a former NFL veteran, Brent may be the most polished of the incoming receivers for the Gamecocks.
Brent is ranked the 54th-best receiver in the nation by Rivals. His position rankings by Scout (117th) and ESPN (131st) are lower, but often those rankings look too much at the measurables. Though Brent rarely gets beat for balls in the air, he doesn’t have an outstanding vertical jump and runs only about 4.58 in the 40-yard dash.
What he will do is make the difficult, chain-moving catch in traffic. That’s more valuable than the player that busts a 70-yard catch every few games.
Brent will also be a valuable personality in the locker room.
“I think in a lot of ways K.J. has been the face of our program the last two years now,” Marvin Ridge coach Scott Chadwick said. “He’s certainly got the most attention of anybody in the program. I think his legacy is how he’s handled it. He’s been a model student and athlete. It’s been a pleasure having him as the face of our program.
“He was honored by our board of education not because he was signing with South Carolina but because he was one of six athletes in the Carolinas to receive a Community Captain Award from the Carolina Panthers for the work he does off the field. That in itself says a lot about him.”