HARRISBURG, N.C. – Entering his senior season, Hickory Ridge offensive lineman Will Putnam looked to clean up the technical aspect of his play at tackle. Putnam, a 3-star prospect on 247Sports.com, has seen improvement as an individual but also as a team that has quickly rebounded from a 1-2 start. Now, Putnam sees the Ragin’ Bulls as a “deep” threat in the playoffs.
“The big thing going into the season was that I wanted to work on my technicality on blocks and in pass sets,” Putnam told today’s U. “Last year I was a really big into the physical aspects, but this year I learned to incorporate that plus the technical side of things like hand placement and working your hips around. I think that dramatically changed over the summer.”
After committing to the Gamecocks on July 14, Putnam, who is the No. 104 offensive tackle nationally, says that the state of his recruitment slowed down considerably. Putnam stopped initiating contact with other schools, and most programs moved onto other targets as well.
“Obviously a lot of schools showed interest, but South Carolina had some of the richest history and best fans,” Putnam said. “That topped some of the other schools I was interested in. I can randomly tweet something and I’ll have 27 favorites on it and a few retweets, and the majority of them are from South Carolina fans. The whole retirement thing [Monday], I had 10-plus people tweeting at me saying, ‘stick with us, we are going to bring somebody good in and we believe in you.’ That goes a long way for a recruit for any college, but I think that’s why South Carolina kind of proved itself.”
In light of longtime South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier’s recent retirement, however, Putnam may receive a considerable spike in interest on the recruiting trail. Several of the Gamecocks’ commits have already discussed the news of Spurrier’s retirement together and it appears that the majority are operating in a wait-and-see mode for now.
“With the whole coach Spurrier thing, a lot of us [commits] talked about it, and it was shocking for it to come this soon. We thought we had at least two years or one year with him. I’m not going to actually recruit myself since I’m still committed to South Carolina. A lot of us are slow-playing it and seeing how the season goes, the coaching staff develops, who they hire and stuff like that. That will all fall into place and determines what happens with all the other recruits and myself too. Since the news broke out, multiple schools have contacted me. Recruiting has picked back up in light of recent news.”
Recruiting has not only picked up for current South Carolina commits, but with the Gamecocks program in general. Since the announcement of Spurrier’s retirement, South Carolina lost one commit, 4-star outside linebacker P.J. Blue, and landed another pledge, 3-star defensive end Darius Whitfield. Putnam reflected on the state of SC recruiting as it stands now.
“The kid who decommitted, he did what’s best for him,” Putnam said. “I’m not going to fault him for that, but he was never really close with any other commits in our class. We have a group message and he never really said anything or I don’t even know if he was in it. He just wasn’t that close with us. The majority of us are just playing it slow. We don’t want to make rash decisions. We want to see how it develops. With the commitment, we talked about the new commit and we tried to get ahold of him and talk to him. I don’t know if it raises flags or not, but it was very interesting. He’s a highly-recruited kid out of Alabama who had an Alabama offer. From another high school athlete perspective, I’m just wondering why the decision. That was interesting, but it was good to see that recruiting hasn’t really dipped that much.”
Several other programs have begun to pursue the 6’5″, 270-pound offensive lineman in an attempt to gauge his interest level at this time, although no moves are expected in the near future. Putnam holds other offers from the likes of Charleston Southern, Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, Elon, Gardner-Webb, Miami (Fl.) and Ohio.
“N.C. State reached out to me and invited me to a game,” Putnam said. “They said they were interested in me and everything. I kind of reopened channels with Virginia Tech and Miami too.”
With co-offensive coordinator / offensive line coach Shawn Elliott welcomed as new head coach at South Carolina, Putnam reflected on his reaction to the Head Ball Coach’s replacement and what it means for future teams.
“I definitely think coach Elliott will get the most out of the time he gets,” Putnam said. “If it gets extended and he gets asked the head coaching job next year, I’m sure he will do great or whoever they bring in, I’m sure will have a plan for the team.
“That’s one of the worries with the commitments is if a new head coach comes in and changed the staff, we already have relationships developed with our position coaches, so that would probably be one of the big factors.”
Click here for a link to Putnam’s junior highlight tape.