South Carolina held off a late push from other SEC schools and signed defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth from Mobile, Ala., last Wednesday on National Signing Day.
The 6-foot-2, 285-pounder from Murphy High is rated the No. 30 defensive tackle prospect in the nation by Rivals.com. Stallworth verbally committed to the Gamecocks last summer following his official visit to Columbia.
“I love the family atmosphere that South Carolina had,” Stallworth said. “Everybody there has family values and has a family aspect. Campus-wise, it’s a great educational opportunity for me and I liked how the coaching staff interacted with the players.”
Despite his early commitment, the three-star prospect garnered late attention from Mississippi State and Auburn. He also had offers from Arkansas, Minnesota, Tennessee, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Southern Miss and Tulane.
“It was important for me to stay in the SEC,” Stallworth said. “South Carolina is still close enough to home for me, and I wanted the opportunity to compete in the best conference in the country.”
During his junior season, Stallworth exploded on the scene by recording 85 tackles and 10.5 sacks. His productivity continued into his senior season with 53 tackles, four sacks and 12 tackles for loss. His defensive coordinator, Tim Jordan, credited his production to his high motor.
“The biggest thing about him is his work ethic,” Jordan said. “He’s very aggressive and his motor doesn’t stop. He doesn’t stop working, and that’s what the South Carolina coaching staff liked about him.”
The state of Alabama has been familiar territory for coach Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks. Last year Jonathan Walton, an inside linebacker from Daphne, Ala., signed with USC. Former Gamecock and current Carolina Panther Captain Munnerlyn also attended Murphy.
“We have a great relationship with South Carolina from when Captain went there,” former Murphy coach Ronn Lee said. “They have similar qualities that we have in our program, and it opens a lot of doors for our players and kids.”
Stallworth is not just a player who excels on the gridiron. His high school coaches have raved about his academic dedication and his leadership.
“His leadership quality is that he leads by example and he expects everyone to put the same amount of effort in that he does,” Lee said. “If you’re not doing your part, he held players accountable.”
Despite his former coach’s high praise, Stallworth believes his leadership could still use more work.
“The main thing I want to work on at the next level is becoming a better leader and football player,” Stallworth said. “My goal is to work hard, and hopefully win a SEC championship one day.”