If anything, South Carolina needed a commitment from 4-star wide receiver Josh Vann, to help appease the star counters.
More importantly, they went head-to-head with Georgia and won on an in-state guy who was truly coveted by the Dawgs. That’s always a win, no matter how big-time the recruit may be, so Will Muschamp has bragging rights on his old buddy Kirby Smart, at least until they meet again on the recruiting trail.
Vann, a 4-star from Tucker (Ga.) High School, is the highest-ranked member of the Gamecocks 2018 haul, checking in at No. 177 overall according to the 247Sports composite. In the always loaded state of Georgia, he’s 20th overall.
“It felt good to me. It felt home, peaceful and God led me to that decision,” Vann said. “Can’t go wrong with God leading you there.”
South Carolina entered the weekend with the No. 23 class in the country and seventh in the SEC. With Vann’s commitment, nationally, the Gamecocks move up three spaces to 20. Among league teams, they switched slots with Mississippi State and now sit sixth, one spot behind Kentucky.
At 5-foot-10.5, 175 pounds, Vann profiles as a slot receiver in a lot of systems, but South Carolina’s offensive brain trust wants to utilize him in a variety of roles. For Vann, that was part of the appeal, to come be the next Deebo Samuel.
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Kudos are in order for Muschamp, co-offensive coordinator Kurt Roper and co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon for parlaying Samuel’s productive 2016 into a win for 2018.
That’s recruiting 101.
“They were more laid-back and they’ve been telling me the truth the whole time,” Vann said. “They said I’m going to be a playmaker. I won’t just be a slot guy, even though my height. … I’ll play outside, anywhere with the ball in their offense.
“I like it. My family likes it, so you can’t go wrong with that.”
Teammate Dylan Wonnum, a 4-star 2018 offensive tackle, is also being recruited by Muschamp & Co., but Auburn has emerged as the front-runner. Vann will “try to get him down there” to Columbia, but time will tell if his efforts will be fruitful. Wonnum plans to wait until December, before rendering a decision.
“But it’s his decision,” Vann said. “We’ll see.”
Skillset: Though Vann on the chance to be the next Samuel, his comp is to freshman wide receiver Shi Smith, who is expected to see a lot of playing time this season. On the hoof, they’re close to the same size. Vann is listed at 5-foot-10.5, 175 pounds while Smith’s 5-10, 175. Vann may not be quite as fast as Smith — he ran a 4.69 laser-timed 40 at The Opening in Atlanta — but he motors by an awful lot of guys on game day. Both are able to catch the ball at its highest point — Vann jumped almost 36 inches in the vertical leap. And, despite their size, they’ve got an impressive catch radius and enough strength to make contested grabs.
Immediate impact: Assuming that Samuel declares for the NFL Draft following this season – that’s probably a safe assumption – Vann will have an opportunity to compete for early playing time. However, there are a couple of returning wide receivers with similar skillsets to Shi Smith and Randrecous Davis, both of whom will be sophomores by the time Vann shows up in 2018.
Fitting into the program: Vann has visited South Carolina several times over the last eight months, so he’s familiar with the people and surroundings. One of his former high school teammates, freshman defensive end Aaron Sterling, is also available to provide further insight. Plus, Vann is close with McClendon, an Atlanta native who served as his primary recruiter.
Recruiting at the position: South Carolina entered the weekend with three wide receivers already on board for 2018: Darius Rush, Tyquan Johnson and Ronnie Jamison, all three of whom are rated as 3-stars. The Gamecocks are more than likely finished at the position for the cycle.
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