Steve Spurrier resigned as South Carolina’s coach less than a month after Asheville’s Pete Leota committed to the Gamecocks, but despite the surprising news Leota has no intentions of looking for a new school.
“That doesn’t change anything about my commitment to South Carolina. I chose South Carolina because it is a great place. Some of it was because of Coach Steve Spurrier but it wasn’t only because of him,” Leota said. “I chose it because of the location, the school, the environment and the education.”
The offensive tackle said he communicates regularly with several USC commits, including quarterback Brandon McIlwain, offensive lineman Will Putnam, running back CJ Freeman and defensive back JJ Givens.
Leota believes the 2016 recruiting class is a talented one that has a chance to continue to get better. He feels like the potential is there for the Gamecocks to make a quick turnaround.
“We have such a talented group coming in, and the recruiting season hasn’t ended yet,” he said. “We’re hoping to get some more commits and be able to make a big jump for South Carolina.”
Leota was excited to see Shawn Elliott named interim head coach as Elliott was set to be Leota’s position coach. Leota has a strong relationship with Elliott and has been impressed by what he has done with the Gamecocks thus far.
“I thought it was awesome because he was my offensive line coach,” Leota said. “He was the main one who recruited me in this process. I think it’s a great step for him and the team.”
Leota has helped Asheville to a 7-1 record thus far. After its only loss of the season the Cougars responded with wins by 48 and 47 points.
“We’re doing pretty good. We’re trying to bounce back from a loss from two weeks ago. That’s been good motivation for us,” he said. “I’m just working to get better every day so I can come in to South Carolina and be a good player for them.”
Asheville uses a mostly run-oriented offense, so Leota said he specializes in run blocking, but he is also a capable pass blocker as well.
“I’m a big run blocker since my team is mainly a run team. I’ve got power. I can also do well in pass protection,” he said. “I’ll do whatever the team wants me to do. Run blocking is my specialty, though. That’s what they’re recruiting me for, to get some rushing yards next year.”
Leota did not visit USC for the Vanderbilt game because he was taking the SAT but he plans to be in attendance for Carolina’s next home game Nov. 14 against Florida. He is not planning to visit any other schools at this time.