Jabari Ellis finished a prepared statement with the simple message that he was staying home.
The Holly Hill- and Vance-raised defensive lineman made his mom happy when he committed Tuesday, opening his Fourth of July by picking the South Carolina Gamecocks over N.C. State. He said the decision was made a week earlier, and when he told Will Muschamp the news, it made the USC football coach’s night.
He revealed his choice by opening a new hat to show the Gamecocks logo with the block “C.”.
“I felt like I could have accomplished my goals at both schools,” Ellis said, “so it really came down to which school I was comfortable with. Carolina, I just felt the love there, I felt it in my heart.”
The USC coaching staff had a helpful ally in Ruth Ellis, Jabari’s mom. She would don Gamecocks shirts often to drop some not-so-subtle hints.
“I just love my son and I’m so proud he picked the right decision,” Ruth Ellis said to laughs. “That’s where I wanted him to go. … I wanted him to do what he thought was right.”
Jabari Ellis followed, “I actually told coach Muschamp, I told him the person that was recruiting me the hardest to go to Carolina was my mom, not them.”
Ellis said he heard from Muschamp every day and defensive line coach Lance Thompson each week. The message: They needed him.
Ellis became the 11th member of USC’s 2018 class. The 6-foot-2, 285-pound lineman is the No. 14-rated junior college player in the country and a three-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite. He said the staff wants him as a three-technique defensive tackle, and his high school coach, Chris Carter, said his pass rushing skills are probably his best attribute.
Carter watched a young Jabari Ellis struggle with the disappointment of not being able to go to a four-year school out of high school. Miami had been on him hard, and the coach could see some of the hurt.
“To watch this kid, from where I know he started to where he is right now … it’s just tremendous the accomplishments and what he’s done to get to this point,” Carter said.
Ellis was a Shrine Bowl player his senior season. At GMC, he had 14 tackles, four for loss, and one sack in 2016. He said he’s on track to graduate in December and enroll at USC in January.
Ellis is the the second junior college defensive lineman of the class. Dantrell Barkley committed in early June out of Independence Community College (Kansas). The team is still in the hunt for Florence and College of the Canyons (Calif.) lineman Dorian Gerald.
Lake Marion has produced a few Clemson players, notably top-10 draft pick Mike Williams. Now that Ellis is on the other side of the rivalry, he’s a believer in the team he’s set to join.
“I was joking with Mike last night that Carolina’s going to beat Clemson,” Ellis said. “They’re really on the rise. I’m bought into the system.”
USC 2018 commitments
Note: DE Tyreek Johnson of Lakewood is a carry-over from the 2017 class and is scheduled to enroll in January.