Ray Tanner explains latest football hire, extension
Tanner called the Georgia alum “A high-energy young man.”
Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp added to that in an official statement: “An outstanding young football coach … and is an outstanding recruiter.”
Youth and energy are often touted as key assets in recruiting, and all indications are Thomas boasts both. At 32, he’s only a decade removed from his playing days.
So what does he bring to USC as a recruiter?
The first thing worth pointing out is his ties to a pair of key areas. Brown has roots all over Georgia, having starred at Atlanta-area powerhouse Tucker High School and played for the Bulldogs, and spent the past three seasons in the heart of South Florida, coaching and recruiting in Miami.
Those are two of the densest areas for talent in the country and both areas the Gamecocks are heavily involved in.
Looking at Brown’s history, via 247 Sports’ tracking of it, he was the primary recruiter for five-star Miami tailback Lorenzo Lingard, plus four-stars runner Travis Homer and Cam’Ron Davis. All are Florida kids.
He was also primary in pulling safety Arrington Farrar out of Atlanta and a secondary for four other four- or five-stars.
In 2018, 247 ranked him the No. 36 recruiter in the country. That year, Gamecocks defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson, another coach with South Florida ties, was the staff’s best at No. 56 nationally. This year Robinson led the pack at 78th nationally, with Bobby Bentley right behind.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for him will be to help USC land a big-name running back in the coming cycles.
USC has signed four backs under Muschamp, none ranked in the top 500 in national prospects or higher than 15th among all-purpose backs. That’s not been for lack of trying, as USC has been in it with plenty of blue-chip runners, but for whatever reason the staff has yet to seal the deal.
On the field, the Gamecocks have not found a consistent lead back in three seasons. The top back, Rico Dowdle, posted 764 yards as a freshman and 659 as a junior but hasn’t been fully healthy. The runners behind him have been solid, but few rose to the level of being the guy.
South Carolina will go into next season with three or four senior tailbacks, depending on where A.J. Turner ends up. Beyond that, it’s two sophomores, one who played this season, incoming freshman Kevin Harris and perhaps someone else if Brown can land someone big in the weeks before signing day.
There’s also the question of the move with Bobby Bentley moving to tight ends coach and Pat Washington departing. That could mean some transition, with some players maybe no longer being targets of interest.
It’s not yet known what areas he’ll recruit, but at least part of Washington’s territory was the Charlotte area.