South Carolina’s struggles this season are a cause for concern for one of the SEC program’s highest-rated commits.
Marlon Character, a 3-star safety from Grady High School (Ga.), told the AJC’s SECCountry.com that he isn’t sure what to expect from the Gamecocks moving forward amid recent conversations surrounding coach Steve Spurrier’s supposed decline.
“That’s the thing, I don’t know what to expect,” Character said. “They just got a new defensive coordinator, coach Jon Hoke. Before I committed, I didn’t really know he was the defensive coordinator. I knew he was the co-defensive coordinator, but I didn’t know he was the defensive coordinator officially, now, and the defensive backs coach.”
His concerns with South Carolina appear to have created an opening for Auburn, a school he admits he was close to committing to following an unofficial visit over the summer. Character unofficially visited Auburn over the weekend for its game against Mississippi State. He said his connection with the Tigers is the best it has been since he opened up his recruitment.
“I can say my relationship with Auburn is getting stronger,” Character said. “As of right now, it’s probably in the best position that it’s been in since probably my entire recruitment. The thing I can say is, I can keep building my relationship with the coaches and keep watching them build as a team.”
Character tells SECCountry.com that he was happy with what he saw from Auburn’s secondary on Saturday, and says he can envision playing alongside the relatively young unit. He’s also confident in the direction Auburn is headed under defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson despite the program’s sluggish start to the season.
“(Robinson) has a lot of energy,” Character said. “He brings a lot of passion to the game. I was watching him warm up the defensive backs and saw his intensity. He’s a great defensive backs coach. And coach Will Muschamp is a great defensive coordinator. I talk to them both on a day-to-day basis.”
On the contrary, when asked about his relationship with South Carolina co-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke, Character said they don’t speak as often.
But the 6-foot, 170-pounder says he remains committed to South Carolina. His father told SECCountry.com that the Gamecocks will eventually rise to their proper place in the SEC, but he conceded that Auburn is a “very” close No. 2.
What would it take for Character to change his mind about South Carolina?
“It’s going to come down to what do I want to do,” Character said. “I’m not really sure what it could take because winning games is not really important to me right now. Who can develop me the most? Whoever can show me they can do that the best, then that’s who I’m going with.”
Character has yet to determine dates for his five official visits, but his next trip to Auburn will likely be an official.
He is ranked as the No. 28 player in Georgia.