USC Gamecocks Football

TJ Brunson wants Muschamp’s first class to make its mark

T.J. Brunson talks about his decision to sign with South Carolina

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Richland Northeast linebacker TJ Brunson had a well-traveled recruiting road. He was a major target of the previous South Carolina staff but committed to Louisville last July. He was always interested in the Gamecocks and de-committed from the Cardinals in December when Will Muschamp was named the new coach.

He was the first recruit Muschamp visited after his introductory news conference and that helped lead to Brunson finally casting his decision for the Gamecocks on Jan. 18.

Brunson made it official Wednesday morning when he faxed his signed National Letter of Intent to South Carolina then held a signing ceremony at his school.

So what was the determining factor for Brunson to move less than 20 minutes down the road to continue his college career?

“My official visit sealed the deal for me,” the 6-foot, 220-pound tackling machine said. “Just seeing a different part of Columbia that I’ve never been able to see and meeting different people on the team and around the program. I felt like I could become my own person while I’m 15 minutes away from home.”

Brunson overcame an off-season hip injury to finish with 138 tackles this past season, which he capped off by being named the defensive MVP of the Shrine Bowl.

“He’s going to be a super player for them,” Jay Frye, RNE coach, said. “I know his character and he’s going to be ready whenever they put him in there,” Frye said.

“He’s a smart player. He makes plays all over the field. He has great instincts. He knows how to read offenses and how to read the defensive signals. Plus, he’s strong. He’s a physical kid that likes to hit people. He can chase or he can stick it up there when given the chance.”

Brunson was certainly impressed that he was the first recruit Muschamp visited.

“He wants to win, plain and simple,” he said. “It definitely made a mark when he visited me and how seriously he thought of my athletic ability. He’s a hard recruiter. He knows what he’s doing and exactly what to say and how to say it. He does his job really well.”

Brunson hasstarted building a bond with the early enrollees for the Gamecocks. He said they talk and hang out and believes they can build the foundation for the future recruiting classes under Muschamp.

“Everybody that I’ve met is all excited for the program, what’s going to happen and what’s going to become of it. Everybody’s hyped and pumped up to get the season started,” Brunson said. “We’re going to leave a mark -- for him and being his first class.”

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