COLUMBIA, SC (TheBigSpur/WIS) - The Gamecocks picked up a key recruit for the class of 2015, a four-star player who says he also chose the school because of its academics.
Lithonia, Georgia defensive end Arden Key committed to South Carolina Sunday afternoon.
The 6-foot-6, 205-pounder originally planned to commit on Oct. 25 when his team takes on Stephenson (Ga.) High on ESPNU. Then after visiting South Carolina Friday with class of 2014 South Carolina target and teammate Wesley Green, Key said he was likely to commit July 1.
Instead, he decided to go ahead and end the process.
"I wanted to go ahead and be a Gamecock, because I already knew where I was going to," Key said. "Me and Wesley were going to commit on the same day, but there wasn't any point in waiting. I felt like I had to do it now and I did it."
Key chose South Carolina primarily over Georgia but he also had offers from Arkansas, Clemson, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami, Mississippi State, North Carolina and Ole Miss among others.
When Key called to commit, he spoke with both his recruiter of record defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward and defensive line coach Deke Adams.
"They were really excited," Key said. "Coach Ward was really excited. He said he was going to get with coach (Steve) Spurrier later today and have me call him in a couple of hours. I talked to Coach Adams, the d-line coach, and he said he was real proud that I committed to them."
Key says Friday's visit helped push the Gamecocks over the top.
"It has a great vibe," he said. "There wasn't really anybody there, but you could tell when people are there what it would be like. It's kind of a mixture of the city and the country. The academic part, they make it easy. In order to do bad at South Carolina, you've got to try to fail."
Key was speaking of the tutorial and academic support of student-athletes at the school after a tour of the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center.
On Monday, the university announced University of South Carolina student-athletes ended the Spring 2013 semester with a 3.198 grade point average, surpassing the 3.0 plateau for the 13th consecutive semester.
The football team ended the semester with a 2.724 GPA, its sixth consecutive semester above 2.7.
Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward was Arden Key's recruiter of record.
As good as the visit was, the catalyst for Key's major interest in the program was the chance to play with 2014 commitment Bryson Allen-Williams (Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove) and 2015 commitment Dexter Neal (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson).
"We've been playing football since we were in rec leagues together," Key says. "We always said we were going to commit to the same school together. At first I didn't really believe it, I was like, 'I'm not going to school with y'all, I'm just going to do my own thing' then it was like, it's amazing at South Carolina. Then both of them committed and I was like, 'Man, let me check out this South Carolina.' Because, really, at first I was mostly looking at Georgia. I really had my mind set to play at Georgia. Then I went to South Carolina and everything took Georgia off my mind."
The scheme the Gamecocks run also helped put them over the top.
"Coach Ward said don't just look at the school, look at the scheme they run," Key said. "When I thought about it, I was like Georgia runs a 3-4 and I would be an outside linebacker -- I'm not big enough to play the five-technique -- and I want to play with my hand in the dirt, so that took it off and I came home thinking, I was like, 'Oh, yeah, South Carolina.'
Key is ranked the No. 3 weakside defensive end and No. 70 overall prospect in the 2015 class with a rating of 94.