Shane Beamer's recruitment of 5-star Nyckoles Harbor is more important than you think
Shane Beamer and South Carolina celebrated the 2023 National Signing Day with the No. 16 class, according to 247Sports, with the biggest commitment of the day coming from Archbishop Carroll athlete Nyckoles Harbor. And while securing a 5-star talent like Harbor is a grand achievement for the Gamecocks, the signing is bigger than you might think on multiple levels.
First comes the signing itself, South Carolina has recruited 7 5-star athletes in its history, all of which were nationally ranked in the top 20 in the nation, at least ranked No. 1 or 2 at their position, and all were ranked No. 1 in their state.
The difference in Harbor, an Under Armour All-American, is that he is the sole Gamecock 5-star who is not from South Carolina. Sure, winning recruiting battles in South Carolina and Georgia are musts for Beamer and his staff, but for them to secure a big-time commitment from a player like Harbor from a place like Washington, D.C., is the type of recruiting that you must do in order to put yourself in championship contention.
Beamer used every available commodity he had to make sure Harbor knew South Carolina had everything he needed to achieve his goals, including a helping hand from South Carolina track coach Curtis Frye. Given that Harbor has Olympic track and field aspirations as well, it made sense to use every tool in your tool kit. Harbor has run the 100 meters in the mid 10.2-second range. That’s outrageously fast for a guy who is 6-5, 225. Last month, he recorded the fastest 300-meter time in a prestigious prep track event that included athletes from around the country.
Where he lines up next fall already has been a hot topic of conversation. For the record, Harbor has told reporters he anticipates playing tight end but would relish an occasional opportunity to rush the passer.
Harbor didn’t mince words when explaining what sold him on South Carolina:
“It’s Beamer Ball,” referring to head coach Shane Beamer. “He is the hottest recruiter in America.”
While that would be some pretty heavy praise coming from an in-state recruit, the face that Beamer sold Harbor on the vision and plan he has all the way down in South Carolina is a testament to what “Beamer Ball” really is. It’s a relationship-building approach in an NIL world.
NIL still matters, and Harbor will get his share and more. It doesn’t matter if he is in Columbia, Eugene, or Alaska, the talent will attract the money. Which leads to the second point of why Harbor’s signing was so big: it garnered national attention.
Most of us who pay attention to National Signing Day knew that the day was going to be pretty quiet given the fact that the bulk of the top players signed in December. But Harbor announcing his decision on live TV catapulted Beamer and South Carolina to the head of the line when it came to college football news on National Signing Day.
How many other programs can say that when programs like Alabama, Georgia, Texas and Ohio State regularly dominate the headlines on the day.
Beamer even acknowledged how big the moment was to be recognized by the national media but also by an even more important set of viewers, recruits. “It’s extremely impactful, particularly when it’s a national guy that announces on national television today like Nyck did. It resonates not just here in South Carolina but across the country. People are talking about this, like I said a minute ago about the number of 2024 recruits that are reaching out to me right now, seeing just, looking at Twitter the amount of people, people who don’t even cover recruiting, sports writers in the national media who are talking about South Carolina football right now. It’s great.”
On a day that was supposed to be quiet, South Carolina made noise. Not only did they make noise, but they also made National Signing Day actually exciting and that’s good for the sport overall.
The Alabamas and Georgias may not need that kind of splash on NSD but that is exactly the kind of publicity that a program like South Carolina can’t get enough of. Beamer doesn’t need NIL to help him sell his program; he has the best weapon he can possibly use in himself.