It's safe to say that the period between January 1st and National Signing Day is a bit of a whirlwind.
Tyren Jones, the former standout running back for the Alabama Crimson Tide whose departure from that program was mired in controversy, spent last season at Hutchinson Community College before announcing recently that he was coming back to the SEC to wear a different deep hue of red.
Gamecock Nation was aflutter with hope and possibility that another great running back was on his way to Columbia. Others were hopeful that a redemption story was in the making.
Now, that story seems to have taken a slight detour.
Yesterday, word surfaced that Tyren Jones would not sign with the Gamecocks on National Signing Day. Jones' academic situation has been under scrutiny since his transfer from Alabama to the Kansas JUCO, in spite of his academic standing trending upward ever since he left Tuscaloosa in May of 2015. Had the Gamecocks lost out on their shot for a stud running back?
In an interview with Phil Kornblut, Jones himself said that the plan 'all along' was to finish his credits at Hutchinson and graduate before signing with the Gamecocks sometime this summer. Jones says that the coaches (presumably just Muschamp) are behind him 100% as long as he, "keeps holding to [his] end of the bargain."
So, what does this mean for Gamecock fans? Not much, right now. Because, if you listen to Tyren Jones, the situation has changed little, if any, regarding his potential to be playing football in a South Carolina uniform. If all goes according to 'the plan' that the Gamecocks' coaching staff and Jones have in place, he could still be coming to Columbia in a matter of months. The reality? Something this peculiar hardly ever turns out for the best.
If he ends up not coming to South Carolina, the Gamecocks will have lost something of a serendipity signing in the swift and strong tailback, and the hopes of immediately closing the black hole left by the absence of Brandon Wilds, Shon Carson, and Pharoh Cooper will be instantly dashed as the threadbare position will again be a huge issue to address before the upcoming season. Incoming Freshmen C.J. Freeman and (hopefully) Rico Dowdle will join a largely untested, young group of backs led by David Williams and Rod Talley.
I guess we'll have to wait and see. With the recent news about high-profile de-commits Kory Banks and Aaron Thompson taking visits to Columbia, I guess it's safe to say anything's possible.
I, for one, am selfishly pulling for the redemption story, but Gamecock fans might need to brace themselves for the reality that sometimes when it sounds too good to be true, it often is.
Forever to Thee,