2023 OT Sam Pendleton (6-4 274) of Pfafftown, NC, which is just outside of Winston-Salem, has been a frequent visitor to USC. He camped in front of Gamecock coaches Shane Beamer, Greg Adkins and area recruiter Pete Lembo last summer. Then he came in for a game earlier this season and returned for the Vanderbilt game this past Saturday. The Gamecocks have not yet offered, but Pendleton feels there’s movement in that direction.
“I’m on their watch list,” Pendleton said. “Coach Lembo, coach Adkins and coach Beamer himself, they watch my film every week. Right now, it’s just a matter of time is what I’ve been told. It could really happen anytime.”
Pendleton had to cut his first visit short because he was under the weather, so he wanted to return for another game to get a deeper look at things around the program. That’s why he was back last weekend.
“I really enjoyed the atmosphere down there. I really liked the coaches,” Pendleton said. “Coach Adkins is a really great offensive line coach. I’m really tight with coach Lembo. Really great people down there. Coach Beamer is running a great program and I like his morals and what he stands for down there. And it’s just SEC football, man.”
It was Homecoming for the Gamecocks, and though the crowd of 64,000 was well shy of capacity, there was enough energy inside of Williams-Brice Stadium to impress Pendleton.
“One of the things I like the most is that game day atmosphere,” Pendleton said. “I’ve been to quite a few college football games, and I’ve never seen the fan atmosphere quite like South Carolina has. Another big thing for me is their family aspect, not just on the football field, but in everyday life. When I was at camp, it was just the football team and the football coaches, so I got to see that family, close-knit atmosphere that I really liked a lot.”
Pendleton watched the offensive line closely Saturday, and he watched the interaction between Atkins and his players.
“I feel like he coaches with a lot of efficiency,” Pendleton said. “He doesn’t have a slew of guys. He doesn’t have 20 guys on his offensive line. He probably carries around 10 or 12. I commend how he is close with his guys. What I saw this second time was just how close coach Adkins is with his offensive line, just the camaraderie between them, and his conversations with us about his guys. They are actual people he cares about.”
Pendleton has offers from NC State, Marshall, Duke and East Carolina. It’s still early for him in his recruiting, but USC has put themselves in a good spot.
“I would say they are pretty high up on my list right now,” Pendleton said. “Right now, where I’m a junior and I have time as my advantage, I don’t see myself making a decision before my senior year. It’s going to have to be pretty defined if I’m going to make something before that.”
Pendleton’s mother is a Virginia Tech grad, and his dad played at William and Mary. As for his rooting interests growing, he became an NC State fan around the age of eight, but he said that won’t impact his decision when that time comes.
He will visit Virginia Tech this weekend. He also has been to games at Duke, NC State, East Carolina and Wake Forest. He does not expect to make it back to USC for another game this season.