Matt Rolin has been visiting the Columbia area since he was 2 years old. His last trip was a little different.
Rolin, a linebacker from Ashburn, Va., visited the South Carolina campus last month and committed to the Gamecocks May 25.
His parents and grandparents graduated from USC, and he still has family in Irmo. Those family ties and his growing relationship with the Gamecocks fueled his college decision.
The consensus four-star linebacker No. 79 overall in the ESPN150 and No. 123 in 247Sports’ Top 247. He picked the Gamecocks over Virginia Tech, Florida State, Florida and Georgia.
Rolin (6-4, 215) visited the campus three times, but has yet to attend a game. USC originally offered him as a tight end.
Though he lives just outside Washington, D.C., he’s a Philadelphia Eagles fan.
Last season he had 100 tackles with 19 for loss and 2 sacks. He also broke up 10 passes and had 2 interceptions.
Did you know you might commit on this last trip?
I had a feeling I probably would. I wanted to go back and make sure it was the place I wanted to go.
What went well on the last visit?
I felt real comfortable there with all the family connections. I really liked everything about South Carolina, the campus and the coaches. It was a really good visit.
How did the relationship with USC start?
My sophomore year, they invited me to a showcase camp. I went up there and actually played tight end there and they ended up offering me originally as a tight end. This year I told them I wanted to play linebacker, so they will let me play linebacker.
I feel more comfortable there. I think it’s more of a natural position. I have good instincts. I think I play that position real well. I think I can do well at both positions, but I’d rather play defense.
Talk about your relationship with your recruiter, Shawn Elliott.
He did a real good job recruiting me. We have a real good relationship. I talk to him pretty much every day.
What was the recruiting process like?
It was pretty hectic. Every day there were coaches coming into the school, or I had to call a coach. I was on the phone for a couple hours after school. It was pretty hectic but I enjoyed it.
What did linebackers coach Kirk Botkin tell you on your last visit?
He told me I was his top linebacker for the Will position, which is the outside linebacker. It depends on how big I come in and how much weight on put on if they’re going to redshirt me or not. If I come in around 225 or 230 they’re probably not going to redshirt me. If not, I’ll probably be redshirted. Coach Botkin is a really good guy. I really like him a lot.
What did you like about USC coaches as a whole?
They seem like they have a lot of fun coaching. They do a real good job recruiting. They seemed like they wanted me the most out of all the schools, so that impressed me.
How about the facilities?
Those are top-notch facilities. The weight room, I think, is one of the biggest in the country. Every school has nice facilities, but South Carolina is the best or one of the best.
How about the fans?
I really like the fans. I gained about a thousand and something followers on Twitter. They’ve been saying good things about me.
Did USC’s success in recent years factor into your decision?
It was a big factor. They won 11 games this season. They are going to get better. They’re definitely one of the top teams in the SEC now.
What makes you a good linebacker?
I’m really long. I’m tall. I’m versatile. I play inside and outside. I play that position fast. I can cover and I can also blitz if they need me to. I play it real well.
What did scouts tell you, good and bad?
They said they like that I’m versatile. They say I’m athletic. Some of the scouts say I need to put on some more weight. I need to get up to 225 or 230 to be a real big linebacker.
Lastly, talk about that mouthpiece you wear. Is it a Matt Rolin trademark?
Yes it is. I wear my mouthpiece to every camp I go to. I wear it to all the 7-on-7s. It’s a trademark I have. I don’t do it for safety. I just do it so I can chew on something.