There are often ups and downs during the course of a player’s recruitment, but it’s not that common to see the coach of the team you’re committed to retire mid-season.
That was the case for three-star offensive tackle Pete Leota, who committed to South Carolina prior to Steve Spurrier stepping down as the Gamecocks coach.
Leota remained firm with his allegiance to South Carolina, as he waited for Will Muschamp to be named the new Gamecocks’ head man. It all worked out for the Asheville (N.C.) High School product, who will report to Columbia, S.C., in late May.
The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder talked about going through the coaching change among other topics in a recent conversation with SEC Country:
Q: What was the funniest story that happened on one of your recruiting trips?
A: Just going down to South Carolina and meeting Muschamp. We were having a laugh. He was telling me a story about Junior Seau how he was coaching him.
Q: What was that adjustment period like when Steve Spurrier retired and you didn’t know who was going to be your coach?
A: I thought it all flowed pretty easily. It was a matter if coach Shawn Elliott was going to stay or not. If he stayed, I was going to stay. If he went, I would’ve had to re-think my decision a little bit, but I still love the school.
Q: What school came in second? What could they have done a little better?
A: It would probably be Virginia Tech or UNC. I think it would be a family matter — if my family liked it.
Q: What was the most creative thing a school or coach did to get your attention?
A: When I went on official visit (to South Carolina), they had a cake all set out for me on my bed in the hotel, and I thought that was my pretty creative with my name all on it.
Q: What was your biggest regret during the recruiting process?
A: I loved my recruiting process, but I do have one regret though. I wish I could’ve taken more visits to other schools. I think that would’ve been fun.
Q: Which coach was it the hardest to say no to?
A: It would be Frank Beamer. That was really tough. But it turned out not to be that hard since later on that season he retired.
Q: Which school disappointed you the most during recruiting?
A: Probably ECU (East Carolina). When I went over for a visit, they didn’t really have an offensive line coach there for me. Then, they hired an offensive line coach and he came over to my school and was talking to me. I thought he was kind of rushing my decision a little bit.
Q: Which college would you have considered more seriously if they had offered you earlier in the process?
A: Probably Virginia Tech.
Q: Which coach of a team that you did not sign with was the nicest?
A: I think it would have to go to probably the head coach at Wake Forest (Dave Clawson).
Q: If you could give a junior only one piece of advice about the recruiting process, what would it be?
A: Just to take it all in. This happens once in a lifetime, so just take in as much as you can, don’t get too stressed about it. Not many kids are getting the opportunity he’d getting, so he should enjoy the process.
Q: If you were in charge of the NCAA, what’s the one rule you would change with recruiting?
A: I kind of like seeing coaches face to face. I would try to change the rule of them coming up to see you. I think they should come see you more often.