South Carolina is trying to make up some major ground in the recruitment of WR Braylon Staley of Strom Thurmond. Staley, who is one of the state’s fastest players and a state champion in the triple jump, was getting little to no interest from the Gamecocks last summer when he committed to Tennessee.
That has since changed. Receivers coach Justin Stepp is now actively in pursuit and verified that interest with an offer earlier this month. It’s not an offer Staley has taken lightly according to his dad.
“With everything that’s going on, we are definitely grateful for every opportunity, every door that’s open,” said Brian Staley who is an assistant coach at Strom Thurmond. “The Carolina offer that came through is definitely an offer to be excited for. Just grateful for it.”
Coach Staley added that Stepp has been on the trail of is son for the past several weeks.
“I know they’ve been talking a lot here lately,” Staley said. “I think Braylon and coach Stepp have had a relationship for a little while. I know that they have been talking.”
Stepp has been talking to the Staley’s about coming to Columbia for a game. That would be the next step in the building of the relationship. Brian Staley said his son has not yet made a decision on if a visit to USC will be in his future.
“We haven’t discussed anything as far as visiting for a game at the moment,” Staley said. “Braylon really hasn’t expressed that right now. He’s been so focused with Strom Thurmond at the moment. We took a visit to Tennessee the other week, but that was because it was pre-planned a long time ago. We haven’t discussed anything right now as far as Carolina and going to a game. We may do that sometime this week. We just haven’t had the chance to dig into it real deeply as of yet. We haven’t had time to sit down and talk about it. He hasn’t brought it up.”
Stepp is fighting an uphill battle right now trying to pull Staley from Rocky Top. There’s loyalty involved and the feeling of appreciation for the early interest and offer from Tennessee.
“Everything has been all Tennessee,” Brian Staley said. “It’s just that they’ve been there for a while, they’ve been there for a long time. They’ve been talking for a very long time, probably since October of last year. They’ve been there for a while, and he’s built a relationship with the entire staff and everybody that’s there. When I see him now talking about Tennessee, he lights up. With Carolina coming in kind of late, I mean, it’s late, it is definitely late. Still trying to feel them out at the same time. It’s a work in progress.”
Clemson was involved with Staley earlier in the year. The Tigers offered and he took an official visit there in June. But they did not push the issue with Staley and eventually the contacts between the two dropped off. He also made official visits in the summer to Tennessee, Miami and North Carolina.