South Carolina figures to have some top-flight recruits in for Saturday night’s SEC closer against Auburn. One who has made plans to be in Columbia is 2023 DT Keith Sampson Jr. (6-4 285) of New Bern, NC. The hotly pursued Sampson is getting a lot of recruiting attention from the Gamecocks dating back to a June visit followed by a camp stop, and that attention has only increased since then.
“What I’m hearing from them is that they really like me as a person and as a player,” Sampson said. “I talked to them all the time, like almost every day. Between me and coach (Montario) Hardesty, and coach (Jimmy) Lindsey and coach (Shane) Beamer, we all just communicate. It’s going to be exciting to see them play again, especially to watch coach Lindsey and see what he does with the D-line. And just to watch coach Hardesty. He’s from New Bern. so, it’s always good to see somebody from my area.”
Having Hardesty on their side should help the Gamecocks as this recruiting story plays out. Sampson said it’s only natural he has reconnected with the hometown hero.
“My family already knew him,” Sampson said. “When he was at Charlotte, I got recruited by him. When he transferred to South Carolina, I got reoffered. He has been the main person throughout the recruiting process with South Carolina that’s been the main guy, between him and coach Lindsey.”
This will be Sampson’s second chance to see the Gamecocks in person. He was on hand for their win at East Carolina in September.
“I like the energy they play with, the intensity that they have, it’s really fun to watch,” Sampson said. “I really like Zacch Pickens. He’s one of my favorite players from South Carolina. I just like the way he plays, and I like what coach Lindsey has been able to develop him in to. It’s going to be fun to watch him.”
Sampson also is drawing interest from Clemson. He saw the Tigers play Georgia in Charlotte and has been talking with defensive line coaches Todd Bates and Lemanski Hall.
“The relationship is still new. I’m just trying to get a feel from everybody,” Sampson said. “I took a visit there during the summer. It was a really good visit. I got a chance to meet a lot of good people there. I’m just trying to build that relationship up more. I just know their recruiting process is slower.”
This season Sampson has also been to games at North Carolina, NC State and Ohio State. And he’s starting to form a list of favorites in his head.
“There’s a couple of schools standing out,” Sampson said. “Ohio State, South Carolina, NC State, Duke, ECU and Alabama.
Sampson said he has three possible commitment dates in mind for 2022. One is in March on his grandfather’s birthday. Another is on his birthday, October 13th. And the third is on his team’s Senior Night next football season.