Dynamic five-star athlete Nyckoles Harbor played defensive end and tight end in high school. But at South Carolina, he might not play either position.
Harbor told The State on Wednesday that the plan is for him to play “more receiver than tight end” at South Carolina.
“We’re going to cut weight down since I’m playing receiver,” he said. “I don’t need to be too heavy.”
At 6-foot-5 and 225-pounds, It was believed that Harbor would end up as a tight end in college. South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer confirmed that he and the coaching staff intend to play Harbor first and foremost at wide receiver.
Defensive ends coach Sterling Lucas and tight ends coach Jody Wright both played a role in Harbor’s recruiting process. Ultimately, though, Beamer believes his skillset will be used best as a wideout.
“My conversation with Nyck as recently as (Tuesday) afternoon, it was more of the wide receiver world, not that he wouldn’t be doing some tight end-type things,” Beamer said.
Harbor committed to South Carolina on Wednesday afternoon in an announcement on ESPN. The five-star athlete is the No. 19 recruit in the country and the No. 1 athlete, according to the 247Sports Composite, and picked the Gamecocks over Oregon, which was the primary competitor according to reports.
Harbor’s frame aids him on both sides of the ball, but also helps him as a track athlete. His career-best 100-meter time is 10.22 seconds, and he also ran an indoor time of 20.76 seconds in the 200-meter.
“He’s an elite athlete,” Beamer said. “He doesn’t need to have his hand in the ground blocking defensive ends 50% of the time. We need him out in space, running routes and catching footballs.”
The Gamecocks also signed in-state wide receiver Elijah Caldwell on Wednesday to add to the depth at that position. The team will return its leading receiver, Antwane Wells Jr., for the 2023 season.
The team lost some key pass catchers such as Jalen Brooks, Josh Vann, Jaheim Bell and Austin Stogner either due to eligibility or the transfer portal. Harbor playing wide receiver would give South Carolina more options for spacing the field.
“We see him more in space, on the perimeter in more of a receiver type role,” Beamer said. “And he does too.”
— The State’s Ben Portnoy contributed to this story