Safety Zahbari Sandy is a 3 star prospect from Washington, DC and is the first public pledge of the 2023 recruiting class. According to his prospect profile he was recruited by defensive backs coach Torrian Gray and special teams coach Pete Lembo. Coaches Gray, Beamer, and Lembo have ties to the DMV area and are using them to expand the South Carolina recruiting territory.
This coaching staff is making a concerted effort to use their connections to build pipelines into the states of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware. In the past, the Gamecocks have focused heavily on South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina. Now they are pushing north as there is plenty of talent that Carolina has yet to tap into. South Carolina has been able to gain some traction into these recruiting areas due to being the northern most SEC school along the east coast, as well as having multiple individual coaching connections to the areas.
Sandy is currently 6 feet 1 inch and weighs 199 pounds. True to form, Sandy is a defensive back built in the mold that coach Gray desires. He’s long, physical, and can play any position in the secondary. Sandy’s strength is reading the flight of the ball and making a play on it in the air. He could play corner as he is fluid and turns his hips well, but he doesn’t possess an elite burst when covering ground if he becomes disconnected from his man. He’s not afraid to come down in the box and make a tackle and he exhibits a quick change of direction when playing north to south, planting his foot and moving to the ball or ball carrier rapidly. For those reasons, he’s likely suited best at safety or nickel in coach White’s 4-2-5 defense.
Offers for Sandy came in from the midwest to the east coast - tallying a total of 22 according to Rivals. Other SEC schools to offer were Mississippi, Mississippi State, and Tennessee. Sandy kicks off the 2022 year rated as a 5.7 recruit, ranked 4th overall in Washington, DC, and the 29th best safety nationally.
Ironically, the first commitment in the 2022 class was also a safety - Anthony Rose. Sandy’s versatility will allow coach Gray to get his 5 best defensive backs on the field at the same time. There are some extremely talented freshmen defensive backs arriving soon, but Sandy will have the opportunity to compete for playing time in 2023 as the two starting safeties - RJ Roderick and DeVonni Reed - are seniors and will leave behind spots to fill.
Highlights are linked below: