This is the latest installment of the “Next Up” series, which profiles the football signees from South Carolina’s 2016 class. SEC Country traveled around the Southeast to visit the recruits before they reported to campus.
HARRISBURG, N.C. — As soon as he learned that Will Muschamp would be the next head coach at South Carolina, Will Putnam went straight to the internet.
“The first thing I did was Google him,” Putnam said. “I looked at his history, his coaching history, just kind of (saw) what his stats were and everything.”
South Carolina landed Putnam’s commitment last July, when he picked the Gamecocks over Virginia Tech. Like everyone else in the Class of 2016 who committed to sign with Steve Spurrier, Putnam’s world was turned upside down when the Head Ball Coach announced his resignation in the middle of last season.
Thanks to the presence of offensive line coach Shawn Elliott and some affirmation from the new head coach, Putnam kept his word and signed with South Carolina in February.
“(Muschamp) seems like a fiery guy. I think he wants to win. I think he’ll do whatever it takes to win, and I wouldn’t want to play for anybody else,” Putnam said.
A left tackle by trade, Putnam will slide inside to center. Jordan Marsh, his offensive line coach at Hickory Ridge High School, played the position at North Carolina, so the transition won’t be so bad.
“(Marsh) has very position-specific drills, like snapping and stepping, just getting the footwork down,” Putnam said.
He’ll have plenty of time to hone those skills. Since the Gamecocks depth chart includes two redshirt juniors at the position — Alan Knott and Cory Helms — Putnam is on track to redshirt in 2016.
“As long as (Putnam) puts the work in, shows the work ethic that he’s shown the last four years here, I think he’s got a really good shot at playing at the next level, but also being really productive and being good for South Carolina,” Marsh said.
The 3-star offensive tackle is set to join his fellow 2016 signees on Tuesday when he moves to Columbia. Waiting to play doesn’t really bother Putnam, who’s expecting to redshirt this fall.
“I don’t want to go in with the mentality of, ‘It’s a redshirt year. I’m just going to wake up early, lift and sit on the sidelines,’” he said. “I’m going to compete. Whatever happens, happens.”
That’s the guy Jack Wallace has gotten to know since they started playing football together in middle school.
“He just goes as hard as he can, all the time,” Wallace said. “He laid expectations for players to come, to follow in his footsteps … I just followed in his footsteps – come in, work hard, bust your butt every single day and then just get your troops behind you, lead your unit and just do it every game, hope for the best and do what you can.”
A 6-foot-1, 205-pound defensive end, Wallace doesn’t think his football career will stretch beyond this season at Hickory Ridge, though he might join Putnam at South Carolina after he graduates next year.
The two friends like the school for many of the same reasons. For Putnam, the opportunity to work towards an MBA from the Moore School of Business is quite appealing.
After football, he wants to work in supply chain and logistics. Putnam has an uncle and a cousin in the field.
His mom, Christie Putnam, is an engineer with a degree from Georgia Tech.
“I think (supply chain and logistics) fits him better. He has that personality that’s more outgoing that will be good for that industry, much more so than engineering, which is more of an introverted field,” she said. “I don’t have to acquiesce. I’m OK with that.
“He has to play to his strengths.”
Apparently, he has quite a few of them.
“It’s rare that you get that combination of size, but also has the athleticism and the brain power, to be able to handle whatever we threw at (Putnam),” Marsh said. “I was blessed to be able to have him this year. It’s going to be hard to replace him for the years to come.”
THE NEXT UP SERIES
- Family support has propelled South Carolina RB signee to stardom, back home
- Wonnum looks forward to opportunity at South Carolina
- Relationship with McClendon paved Davis’ way to South Carolina
- Tucker will bring “never-say-quit” attitude to South Carolina
- For South Carolina QB signee, football is indeed a family affair
- South Carolina’s new DE is just as comfortable discussing bull markets as he is a bull rush
- Samoa native looks forward to life in the SEC
- Focusing on football paid off for elite South Carolina DT signee Stephon Taylor
- New South Carolina CB JaMarcus King almost quit football after losing mom to cancer
- Why some people thought South Carolina DL signee was ‘psychic’
- Late offer from South Carolina nixed Chavis Dawkins’ commitment to ACC school by hours