Brandon McIlwain is one of the top high school athletes in the state of Pennsylvania. He is a two-sport star for Council Rock North (Newtown, Pa.), in both football and baseball (he was recently named the Gatorade State Football Player of the Year for Pennsylvania). He's in the unique situation of being highly sought-after to play college football, as well as being in line to potentially be a first-round draft pick in the upcoming MLB Draft.
McIlwain was a primary target for the Penn State Nittany Lions early in his recruitment, but ultimately chose to commit to Coach Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks. Since then, Coach Spurrier stepped away from football the only way that a man like him truly could - by retiring in the middle of the season. Since then, McIlwain has been in a bit of a holding pattern regarding his recruitment. Then, when Michigan came to play Penn State in late-November, McIlwain made an appearance at the game.
According to Brandon, "It was a great visit, good to go up there and be around the coaches and have some interaction with them and talk about stuff." Many have asked recently whether or not the Penn State coaches have continued to stay in contact with McIlwain, in hopes that they could flip him to Penn State. Brandon told me that they talk "every once in a while" and that the contact has picked up a bit over the last few months or so (coinciding with Spurrier's retirement).
Head coaching changes are tough on the recruits, as they are left pretty helpless as they wait for the new head coach to be announce. McIlwain has been able to keep a level head, however, and seems content to wait it all out. From McIlwain-
"I'm still committed to South Carolina, and sometime soon they're supposed to be naming the next head coach, and that's really the next time I'll know any more information, that's the next time I'll be thinking about the program, thinking about where I sit. Really, when they name the new head coach is kinda when I'm going to start thinking through things a little more."
As far as what sort of qualities he's looking for in the next Gamecock head coach?
"Just really a coach who has proven to be a proponent of the dual-threat quarterback. I know I can play in any system, and I'm really not worried about the type of offense the coach runs, but I want to be able to have the opportunity, and I kind of know that certain coaches prefer different types of quarterbacks. And then starting to develop a relationship with the coach and starting to figure out where I'm gonna fit in their program."
As we wrote on Friday morning, G.A. Mangus is likely the most realistic possibility for Penn State in terms of the open offensive coordinator position. Mangus also happens to be the offensive coordinator at South Carolina, who was also Brandon McIlwain's primary recruiter. Would a move by Mangus to Penn State influence Brandon's decision?
"I'll have to see when that happens, because there's a lot of speculation and a lot of names get thrown around for a lot of different jobs. It would be something that my family and I would definitely talk about and I have a great relationship with Coach Mangus. He's a big reason I committed to South Carolina. It would definitely be something I would take into consideration and would go toward my final decision."
As mentioned earlier, McIlwain is a top baseball prospect for the next MLB Draft. In fact, he's currently listed by ESPN as the No. 8 overall prospect, and the No. 4 ranked high school player.
Now, he surely won't be picked that high due to the likelihood of him attending college (and therefore meaning the drafting team would end up with nobody), but he's not completely ruling out his MLB options, just yet.
"It's definitely something I have to consider. I've been going through the process and I've been talking to scouts, and they've come through my house. It's definitely something I have to consider. I love football and I love baseball. The opportunity to play them both at a high level is kind of the best of both worlds for me, but anytime professional talks start to happen, you have to at least consider it and go through the process, and do the due diligence and get as much information as I possibly can about the MLB and the different options I have."
I actually just talked to Coach Cooper from Penn State today [Thursday]. He told me [Penn State baseball is] definitely an option, if I go to Penn State, I'll definitely play baseball here. Definitely have all the opportunity to play for a starting position.
Brandon would be arguably the most highly-touted baseball prospect to ever commit to Penn State. He will also have the ability to play both football and baseball at South Carolina.
There's still some ways to go with McIlwain as far as his recruitment is concerned. He's still waiting on South Carolina to name a new head coach before making any decisions, but he has "been in contact with a couple other schools" and has "taken calls from a few others." He doesn't have any other visits planned for the near future (he also received an in-home visit from Coach Rahne on Wednesday).
"The most accurate update I can give is I'm still committed to South Carolina. Until the new head coach is announced and I see who that is and go through the process, nothing is really going to change."
Thanks for taking the time, Brandon. You can follow him on Twitter at @BFMcIlwainqb12.