Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Signing Day hat switch

Gamecocks fans should be esctatic with Marcus Lattimore choosing USC over Auburn. I had a chance to spend some time with Marcus after he won South Carolina's Mister Football in Myrtle Beach in December. It was refreshing to be with a young man who was so grounded and mature for his age. I really enjoyed talking with him and I thought he handled the entire recruiting process with class.

Lattimore made the announcement on the night before signing day at his church in Spartanburg. I thought it was neat that Marcus included former NFL great and Auburn running back Stephen Davis as part of his announcement. When Davis came out, everyone had to be thinking it was Auburn. Then, you saw the Auburn hat come out of a burlap sack, but underneath it was a Gamecocks lid and the ultimate answer to everone's question.

It reminded me of another famous "hat trick". On the eve of Signing Day 2003, Syvelle Newton agreed to come to the WPDE studio and announce where he would attend college. It was down to South Carolina and Clemson. It was seven years ago, and it reminds me of how far technology has come. There was no YouTube back in the day and web video was just coming to the forefront. I remember posting the story on our website along with the video and it fried our server due to the overwhelming traffic.

It was something that Gamecocks fans and Clemson fans talked about for many years as the story became folk lore as to what Syvelle did to the Clemson hat. The real answer is below:

The guy standing in the back during Syvelle's announcement. That's Robert Ayers who is now with the Denver Broncos. Right before the commercial, Syvelle leaned into me and whispered "I'm gonna shock the world". I thought that meant he was going to UCLA or Nebraska, but Syvelle should be credited for one of the most talked about announcements in Palmetto state history. It was in all of the newspapers the next day.

Syvelle never made it to the NFL. To this day, he is the most talented player I've seen in ten years of covering high school football. I think that if he would have stayed at quarterback during his entire time at college he would have been a superstar. I'm pretty sure that Steve Spurrier would agree with me on that.