No one ever said recruiting was a clean pursuit, but the murky waters surrounding one linebacking prospect from Georgia have grown so opaque that his high school coach temporarily barred the University of South Carolina from recruiting on his campus.
As reported by The State of Columbia, S.C., the brief, tumultuous commitment of three-star Stephenson (Ga.) linebacker Tra Wilkins to South Carolina ended after just more than a month, when it was confirmed that Wilkins’ commitment had never been formally accepted by the Gamecocks staff.
As noted by Stephenson assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Corey Johnson, Wilkins tried to commit to South Carolina after allegedly receiving a scholarship offer from the school. Yet since committing to the Gamecocks on April 13, Wilkins never received any firm reciprocity from the South Carolina staff. That’s true despite clear interest in Wilkins’ health from South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp and his staff.
“We got a call the next day saying Coach Muschamp wanted his assistant coaches to come down and meet with him,” Johnson said in an interview on SportsTalk radio, per The State. “Tra had a wrist injury and he wanted them to come down to see it and make sure the kid had healed properly, he didn’t want to get burned. I understand that.
“They came by for a couple of minutes and they gave me a call and told me what their intentions were.”
To his credit, Stephenson backtracked from his initial reaction to ban South Carolina, posting a since-deleted Tweet that, “I have been advised that Stephenson is a public school and South Carolina is always welcome to visit!!!”
That re-opened invitation is no guarantee that Wilkins will end up back in Columbia. He could still come back to the Gamecocks’ fold, and the team’s coaching staff could still decide that they think he’s the player they envisaged when extending a scholarship offer.
If that doesn’t happen and Wilkins goes on to star somewhere else, particularly somewhere else in the SEC, Muschamp and co. will have no one to blame but themselves.