Coach Will Muschamp’s push for more speed on the South Carolina roster received a significant boost on Tuesday afternoon.
Melbourne (Fla.) Central Catholic running back Lavonte Valentine, who clocked a 40-yard-dash time of 4.34 seconds in June, now is on board as a Gamecocks commitment.
“That’s one of those things; you can’t coach that,” Melbourne Central Catholic coach Stacy Sizemore said. “Plus, he’s developed into a really good running back. He’s starting to see things and understand things and when to stick his foot in the ground, to get north and south, when to cut back, when to bounce it outside. He’s starting to understand that part of it.”
Valentine, the No. 13 all-purpose running back in the Class of 2018, was South Carolina’s second Independence Day commitment. Junior college defensive tackle Jabari Ellis said yes to the Gamecocks earlier in the day.
With Valentine now on board, the Gamecocks have a thunder-and-lightning twosome at running back. Two spots ahead of Valentine (6-foot, 188 pounds) in the 247Sports composite position rankings is fellow pledge Deshaun Fenwick, a 6-1, 223-pound prospect from Braden River High School (Bradenton, Fla.).
Valentine, also a 3-star prospect, committed to South Carolina over offers from Louisville, LSU, Notre Dame and Southern California, among others. Fenwick’s offer sheet included Georgia and Texas.
“I think the thing about Lavonte that’s intriguing, that’s a plus for him — his best football is ahead of him,” Sizemore said. “He’s one of those kids that — you see those kids that are peaked out by their senior year. I think he’s only going to continue to get better and better and better as he continues to play football.”
Earlier this spring, for East Ridge High School, Valentine won the Florida 4A 100-meter title with a time of 10.61. He plans to also run track for South Carolina.
“That’s one of the things that he’s really looking at, as far as the recruiting process,” Sizemore said. “He does enjoy track. He loves football and he loves track.”