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 Bulldogs. That’s always a win, no matter how big-time the recruit may be, so Will Muschamp has bragging rights for now 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 recruiting class, 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-ranked class in the country and seventh in the SEC. With Vann’s commitment, nationally, the Gamecocks move up three spaces to No. 20. Among league teams, they jumped Mississippi State and now sit sixth, one spot behind Kentucky.
At 5-foot-10.5 and 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.
— 11Alive Sports (@11AliveSports) August 19, 2017
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.”
Skill set: Though Vann on the chance to be the next Samuel, a better comparison is to current 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 and 175 pounds while Smith is 5-10 and 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 – and 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 skill sets 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 — 3-stars Darius Rush, Tyquan Johnson and Ronnie Jamison — already on board for 2018. The Gamecocks are more than likely finished at the position for the cycle.