MADISON, Ga. – MJ Webb’s final days as a high school student have featured a heavy flavor of what comes next.
The Madison (Ga.) Morgan County defensive end took his official visit to South Carolina last weekend. Coach Will Muschamp and defensive line coach Lance Thompson made a return visit, coming to see Webb on Tuesday night in Madison.
Next Thursday, he will officially sign with South Carolina before graduating high school on Friday.
“It’s crazy because time flew by,” Webb said. “It flew by fast. The time is here now to get to work. I’m ready for it.”
The past few days have cemented that feeling for Webb. He has found consistent reminders of why South Carolina was his choice in August and why he has not entertained other suitors since, having gone as far as to change his phone number in the days after his commitment on Aug. 19.
Now, almost four months later, Webb is on the verge of being a South Carolina student studying criminal justice and starting his first spring practice. Webb might get a head start on the football element, as after he graduates in a week, he is planning to head to South Carolina next Saturday and spend a week practicing with the Gamecocks as they prepare to play South Florida in the Birmingham Bowl. That move was part of the discussions Tuesday night, including the NCAA rules on it. But from what Webb understands, once he has officially graduated high school, he is able to participate in practices.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” Webb said. “But I’m pretty sure once the day comes, I will get nervous a little bit. That’s every football player going to another level, but I’ll be fine. It’s football.”
Webb was on campus at South Carolina over the weekend, taking his official visit along with the rest of the class’ early enrollees and said the best part was spending time with the players that will be on campus with him come January.
“This weekend, we grew closer,” Webb said. “We just text on our own, but you can tell this weekend we grew closer just getting to hang out with each other. We would ride a bus together and be together and talk and have fun.”
Webb said he has a close relationship with offensive line commit Summie Carlay and recalled when they met in a Cockaboose next to Williams-Brice Stadium before either was committed.
On Tuesday, Webb had dinner with Muschamp, Thompson, his grandmother, high school athletic director and high school coach. He said the highlight of the night was watching his grandmother and Muschamp bonding and joking around “like they had known each other for a long time.”
Muschamp and Thompson came by today , really wish they would've seen RUTLEDGE ! pic.twitter.com/7MCwoZHH81
— Mj Webb (@mwebb_8) December 7, 2016
It was Muschamp’s first trip to Madison and Webb said it meant a lot to see his soon-to-be head coach making the trip after just spending a weekend around him.
“It was big for me because I know it happens all the time, but usually when a dude commits, the head coach is like we don’t need to go see him because we got him and everything,” Webb said. “But having coach Muschamp still come over here even though I was just with him this whole weekend. He showed the love he has for me. It meant a lot to me. That’s why I respect him so much because you don’t see that happen a lot. That’s what I committed there”
Webb, who was named the Georgia 3A Region 8 player of the year, has been going through workouts with a trainer since his season ended in mid-November. He has expectations of being in the mix early on the South Carolina defensive line.
“They expect me to be like every other player they have coming in and be able to do the work and put out for the team and be a team player and everything,” Webb said. “That’s what I am going to be. I’m looking forward to going over there and being with my new teammates and joining the family.”
After Webb graduates in a week, he is planning to head to South Carolina and spend a week practicing with the Gamecocks as they prepare to play South Florida in the Birmingham Bowl. That move was part of the discussions Tuesday night, including the NCAA rules on it. But from what Webb understands, once he has officially graduated high school, he is able to participate in practices.
But either way, Webb soon will be a South Carolina student studying criminal justice and heading into spring football.
For now, he’s just excited for the moment of signing with South Carolina and shedding a spotlight on Morgan County as the first major Division I player from the school in more than a decade.
“It will bring more attention to Morgan County,” Webb said. “Me being recruited already has gotten a couple guys on the team being recruited now. Seeing our county come together because I know a bunch of teachers that taught me through middle school and high school are going to want to come see this.
“It’s big. I’m a football player from Morgan County, signing to a Division 1 school and that hasn’t happened in so long. It’s pretty excited.”