Summie Carlay’s early goals as part of the Gamecocks football program: get big, stay quick.
The Class of 2017 Laurens offensive lineman enrolled early, getting to campus in early January. Before he went, he said he expected to get highly familiar with strength coach Jeff Dillman, who wanted him in shape when he arrived as a precursor to adding a “lot of muscle mass.”
This will be part of an ongoing process for a player who was a tight end a couple years ago.
“It takes some time to get used to,” Carlay said. “Especially this season, it was harder to get used to because even last year I was at 245, so I was able to move a little quicker. But 275 it’s a little harder to move, so I had to make sure I was staying in shape and eating the right things.”
He played most of the snaps at left tackle for South Carolina’s Shrine Bowl team and caught some higher-level attention from Woody Wommack, Southeast recruiting analyst for Rivals.
“He’s a guy I think has a high ceiling,” Wommack said. “He’s a guy who could come in and redshirt his first year and be a guy who plays for four years. He’s a guy who could play multiple positions on the line. I like his mentality and his game.”
Carlay said leaving high school early was a little surreal, but he’s only about an hour from home and can see family in pretty short order.
His last day of school came before he even went off to practices for the all-star game, which meant nearly a four-week gap before enrolling and a chance to look back and reflect.
“Walking around the halls was kind of weird because I knew it was my last day,” Carlay said. “But I’m also excited looking forward to the next part of my life.”
He capped that last part with a historic run with the Raiders. Carlay’s last high school team went 6-6 with a brutal schedule and hit a few historic marks. The squad clinched its first regional title in 20 years by beating region power Greenwood for the second year in a row (after breaking a 18-year streak in 2015). They followed that by beating Woodmont for the first playoff win since 2008.
And he had some things he worked on in that last college season.
“Mainly just my leadership skills,” Carlay said. “It’s been a little different this year going from a junior to a senior captain. Also just some things like hand punch on pass block and other things that coach Elliott had kind of taught me at camp.”
That’s Shawn Elliott, the man who offered and recruited Carlay, the one who left his post as Gamecocks offensive line coach to take over Georgia State’s program in December. Carlay will work with Eric Wolford, Elliott’s replacement who was officially hired days after the incoming lineman arrived on campus.
But the former coach’s message will still carry through.
“The main thing is just bringing a physical level of play and a physical mentality,” Carlay said. “That’s one of his biggest things is also guys who are mentally tough.
“There’s going to be times in the game when it’s not easy, but you’ve just got to keep pushing.”
Now, Carlay joins a line heavy on returning experience, with four starters back, plus three other players who have started at least one game. It’s also a group looking to improve after a pair of down seasons.
What role Carlay takes isn’t fully clear yet, but the staff has had a consistent message to him.
“They’re really excited about having me come,” Carlay said. “It’s a really big deal for in-state kids to be coming to play for them, but also, just be ready to work.”