TAMPA, Fla. -- In one week, the nation's No. 7 weakside defensive end will announce what is likely to be a top six. However, if Tuesday was any sign, the news might be fairly irrelevant to five of the schools.
Tyriq McCord went through conditioning drills on the balmy practice fields of Jefferson High School sporting a South Carolina hat. After talking to him, it became fairly clear the headgear was a little more than a collegiate fashion statement.
"South Carolina, they always have led just because of the fact they were the first school to offer me," McCord said. "I talk to [quarterbacks coach G.A.] Mangus more than I talk to any other coach. They were always in the lead just because of that, and a lot of schools know that."
But at least for now, the recruiting show will continue. Florida, Miami, North Carolina State and Southern California all received visits from McCord over the summer and he talked highly of all of them. The 6-foot-3, 222-pound defensive end also visited North Carolina but insinuated the Tar Heels are an unlikely choice since the firing of head coach Butch Davis.
McCord said he will probably commit in November because he would like to take some official visits before making anything official. According to a certain teammate, the four-star McCord's late commitment might have more to do with his fellow Jefferson Dragons than actual preference.
"It kind of just shows what kind of teammate Tyriq is," cornerback Charles Booth Jr. said. "Because if it was to him, he would have committed already. But he knows if he commits, maybe the bigger schools that are trying to recruit him won't come here to see guys like me, Adrian [Jenkins] and Will [Watson]. So he's personally going to wait until after the season's over or until after we commit to our respective colleges. He can somewhat get us recruited by having them coming and they see us."
After a state championship-winning season, Jefferson lost 20 of 22 starters to graduation. While the turnover would be deadly for many teams, first-year head coach Jeremy Earle thinks he has plenty of talent ready to step up and take over seamlessly for the players who departed. The Dragons sent eight players to play college football in 2011.
For McCord, Earle is focusing more on building his leadership skills rather than his on-field attributes.
"He brings so much to the table on the field," Earle said. "This offseason, he's really grown into the role of a leader. As a head coach, I really wanted to develop him into that role. My talks with him are rarely about football, but about life and about that role of being the guy. The obvious visual where people look at him and know he's the guy."
The 32-year-old head coach talked a lot with McCord over the summer about recruiting but said he doesn't want to hear as much about it now that the season is almost here.
"We obviously need to get into team goals and everything being team oriented," Earle said. "He's done a great job of eliminating. He's had to tell a lot of schools no, which is something he doesn't like doing. He's so personable and he's a likeable guy, that it's hard. He's really leaned on me for assistance as well as his other assistant coaches who have all been through the process ourselves."
As for Gamecocks, McCord talked about a team he has felt passionate about since they first offered. His relationship with Mangus, his area recruiter, seems to be the main difference separating South Carolina from the other schools pursuing him.
"Just my relationship with Coach Mangus ever since I met him when he first offered me," McCord said. "He's a pretty funny guy and he tells me everything straight up -- the depth charts and how I can start. It's pretty much like he says, he kept it real with me."
If UF is one of the schools that knows about South Carolina being McCord's leader, it certainly hasn't changed the Gators' persistence in coming after the highly-touted end who head coach Will Muschamp has been fitting for his coveted Buck position.
"They're recruiting him hard," Earle said of the Gators. "He's No. 1 on pretty much everyone's board. They blew my phone up all summer because they can't contact him. It kind of makes it hard for me as the middle man."
The standout defensive end said he has not yet sorted out any visits or college games to attend this fall. He will announce which all-star game he intends to play in on Aug. 26.