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Traveon Freshwater returned to South Carolina on Saturday for the Gamecocks’ latest junior day event.
The 6-foot-2, 228-pound 4-star prospect was joined by a classmate at Northeastern High School (Elizabeth City, N.C.) — 4-star athlete J.R. Walker, who’s being recruited by South Carolina as a safety.
It was the first time they’ve been on campus since last spring.
“It was great,” Freshwater said. “I learned a lot of stuff, position wise, drills that I can do to help me get better and move forward for the next level of ball.”
As a junior, he was one of the most productive players in North Carolina, recording 157 tackles and 27 sacks to go with 2,015 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns.
Freshwater, who’s on the Gamecocks board as a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end, got a first-hand look at what it’s like to play for Will Muschamp, Travaris Robinson and the rest of the defensive brain trust.
“Just watching them, the coaches actually coach [the players], get them to know their assignments, teaching them, talk and coach them at the same time, making sure everybody knows their assignments, instead of just getting straight into it,” Freshwater said.
Mike Peterson, the Gamecocks assistant who would coach Freshwater, also got his attention. The “straight up” approach has the country’s No. 11 inside linebacker seriously considering a future at South Carolina.
The team’s improvement from 2015 to 2016 to 2017 helps, too.
“How the progress is going for them, going from three to six to nine wins, so that’s stood out a lot,” Freshwater said. “It shows me that the head coach is making progress with his team and how they’re getting better each year.”
Plus, Muschamp has made a good impression.
“He’s a pretty cool, laid-back coach. He’s not just the head coach, but he gets involved with the defense,” Freshwater said. “He coaches the [safeties] and he gets involved with the defense. He’s involved with the team, instead of just sitting back and trying to evaluate. That’s what I like about him. And he’s kept it real the whole time.”
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South Carolina occupies a spot in Freshwater’s lead group, along with North Carolina State and Virginia Tech. He hopes to reach a conclusion in his recruitment before his senior season, ideally this summer. Several factors will be considered.
“Just how they treat their players outside of football, off the field,” he said. “Once football is over, can they still be that same coach that you can go to, to talk to about anything, just because football season is over. Just building a relationship. And is it a good fit for me to get my education, my degree?”
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