South Carolina soccer: Rattler return is big for Gamecocks

The present goes on.

Sandwiched between 2022 highlights and a clip out of Martin Scorsese’s “Wolf of Wall Street,” Spencer Rattler introduced his return to South Carolina by way of a social media video on Tuesday night.

It did not ship fairly the identical shockwaves that his preliminary dedication to USC elicited one 12 months in the past, however the ramifications are simply as huge.

“Here. We. Go!!!!!!!!!!! head coach Shane Beamer promptly chimed in on Twitter following Rattler’s announcement.

It’s laborious to overstate the significance of Rattler’s return in Columbia. He was a man seemingly destined for one season at South Carolina earlier than leaping to the NFL. He now turns into the linchpin for offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains in his first 12 months taking up for Marcus Satterfield.

Above all, Rattler offers head coach Shane Beamer and South Carolina legitimacy because the Gamecocks look to climb larger within the Southeastern Conference standings in 2023.

“We’ve acquired to do an awesome job recruiting him again,” Loggains quipped of Rattler throughout his introductory press convention final month. “I advised somebody, ‘He’s the largest recruit since my spouse.’ “

Rattler represents a brand new breed in faculty soccer, one who, underneath previous guidelines and laws, could be off to coach for the NFL Draft proper now. He’ll virtually definitely be rewarded handsomely by way of identify, picture and likeness offers for his loyalty. Such is life in faculty soccer in 2023.

Rattler’s 2022 season had its ups and downs. He threw 5 picks in his first three video games. His ultimate 18-12 touchdown-to-interception ratio leaves one thing to be desired. Still, there have been moments of “wow” that reminded everybody why he was such an enormous get in December 2021.

The November wins over No. 5 Tennessee and No. 8 Clemson will dwell on in South Carolina flowers. Rattler’s magician-like performances in these contests ensured that he’ll by no means have to purchase one other drink in Columbia. He completed these two wins throwing for a mixed 792 yards and eight touchdowns. He linked on 72% of his throws. That’s the sort of upside that comes again in 2023.

There’s additionally the not-so-subtle tie to receiver Antwane “Juice” Wells, who introduced he’d return for another go at it on Monday evening. Wells completed second within the SEC in receiving yards this 12 months. The solely man he trailed was Bileitnikoff winner Jalin Hyatt.

The thought round Columbia and contained in the soccer program was that Rattler’s and Wells’ choices had been linked. If one returned, the opposite would, too. South Carolina acquired simply that — and now has two of essentially the most confirmed playmakers within the convention within the fold subsequent fall.

“I known as him into my workplace earlier than the Tennessee recreation and I reminded Spencer, ‘You’re constructed for this. There’s no different quarterback I’d reasonably have. And you may cement your legacy right here at South Carolina with what you do right here in these subsequent two weeks,’” Beamer stated following the Clemson win. “Hopefully he can come again subsequent 12 months and do it once more, too.”

Rattler’s choice each grants Beamer’s want and brings a legitimacy to his operation in how South Carolina can preserve the upward trajectory it is reasonably boisterously gathered over the previous two years.

The Gamecocks, on paper, had been dealing with a quarterback battle had Rattler opted for the NFL. They’d have entered 2023 figuring out whether or not Luke Doty was the longer term at quarterback, or, maybe, redshirt freshman Tanner Bailey. Instead, this system has probably the most recognizable names in faculty soccer under-center as soon as extra.

That offers the Gamecocks juice (no pun meant) in a wide-open SEC East. Georgia stays a machine and, all issues thought-about, needs to be poised for the primary three-peat in faculty soccer historical past. Behind that? Who is aware of.

Tennessee exploded for an 11-win season in 2022 and ought to remain round a high 15 staff, if not higher. Florida stays in rebuilding mode underneath Billy Napier, and its quarterback scenario with Anthony Richardson off to the NFL is murky at finest. Mark Stoops has confirmed adept at turning over Kentucky’s roster, however sans Will Levis, it is unclear how NC State switch signal-caller Devin Leary will fare within the big, dangerous SEC. Missouri — though it beat South Carolina this 12 months — and Vanderbilt additionally lurk, however stay in various phases of mediocrity.

“I believe they’re on the precipice of turning into a high 15 program over the subsequent a number of years,” 247Sports nationwide faculty soccer reporter Brandon Marcello advised The State. “They’ve acquired to have the ability to capitalize on what they have been capable of do within the switch portal the final two years and have the ability to construct round Spencer Rattler in order that on this upcoming season, you have gotta get to the 9 – to 10-win-type of 12 months to solidify your self.”

Jordan Belfort, as depicted in Scorsese’s aforementioned flick, constructed a monetary empire that crumbled over authorized points. South Carolina will hope the return on funding in Rattler cements a basis in-built stable stone — or no matter materials bowl trophies are product of today.

This story was initially revealed January 12, 2023 6:50 AM.

Ben Portnoy is The State’s South Carolina Gamecocks soccer beat author. He’s a five-time Associated Press Sports Editors award honoree and has earned recognition from the Mississippi Press Association and the National Sports Media Association. Portnoy beforehand lined Mississippi State for the Columbus Commercial Dispatch and Indiana soccer for the Journal Gazette in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

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