Two-sport star Nyckoles Harbor picks South Carolina on signing day, 'feels like home'
WASHINGTON — One of the most dynamic two-sport stars in the country is heading to South Carolina.
Archbishop Carroll High School athlete Nyckoles Harbor, a 6-foot-6 wide receiver who also has the speed of a potential Olympic sprinter on the track, announced his decision during a ceremony at his high school Wednesday that was also televised live on ESPN.
Pegged as a five-star recruit by 247 Sports and Rivals, among other recruiting services, Harbor had entered signing day as one of the highest-rated football prospects still available. The majority of top recruits signed with schools during the early signing period in December.
Harbor, 17, has been a two-sport star at Archbishop Carroll and previously indicated that he plans to play football and run track in college. He's spoken openly about his dual goals: Becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, and winning at least one Olympic gold medal.
Who were Harbor's other finalists?
According to Rivals, Harbor had at least 41 Power Five scholarship offers. He told recruiting website On3.com last month that "I don't really have a finalist, but I guess you can put Maryland, South Carolina, USC, Oregon and Michigan."
MORE: Ranking the 10 best college football recruiting classes
FINDING HOME: Rashada picks Arizona State after NIL fiasco at Florida
LOOKING AHEAD: Way-too-early Top 25 for 2023 has Georgia in front
Oregon made a late push to get Harbor, hosting him on an official visit over the weekend. But the Gamecocks, who were long considered the leaders in the race, managed to hang on.
Why South Carolina?
Harbor has spoken highly of third-year football coach Shane Beamer throughout his recruiting process. He said he first met the coach when he was in ninth grade and Beamer, then an assistant at Oklahoma, was recruiting another player at his school.
"It's the place that feels like home to me, and I'm happy about that," Harbor said. "If I can go somewhere that feels like home, then I'm going to go and pursue my dreams there."
Harbor added that he believes he could achieve his goals at any school he attended, but South Carolina is where he thought he would be happy.
"Coach Beamer's a great recruiter, so he's bringing in talent every time," Harbor added. "I was just the final piece of the puzzle."
The chance to compete in the Southeastern Conference was likely a draw for Harbor, as were the climate and the relatively short distance from home. Among SEC schools, South Carolina is among the closest to the Washington area where Harbor grew up.
What makes Harbor unique?
It's not his size or speed, but the combination of them.
At 6-6 and 225 pounds, Harbor has the frame to be a standout edge rusher or tight end at the next level, especially as he puts on weight with the help of a college strength coach. But his times on the track so far in high school put him in the same neighborhood as Olympic sprinters like Erriyon Knighton, or NFL speedster Tyreek Hill.
"This is someone who, if he goes to the combine, is just going to set records," Adam Gorney, the national recruiting director for Rivals and Yahoo! Sports, said this fall. "There’s just nothing to think that he wouldn’t. He’s going to blow people away."
What position will Harbor play?
In high school, Harbor was a two-way playmaker. Over his final two seasons, he racked up 47 tackles for a loss on defense, as an edge rusher, and 10 touchdown catches on offense, as a tight end and wide receiver.
He said Wednesday that the Gamecocks plan to use him on offense, likely as a wide receiver. But there's a chance he could also line up at tight end – and, he added, "I might blitz once or twice."
"The upside is tremendous (at receiver)," Archbishop Carroll football coach Robert Harris said. "His growth in the last four months, in that area, has been tremendous."
Though Harbor previously indicated that he would prefer to play defense, staying on the offensive side of the ball will likely be more amenable to his two-sport goals. He can stay more lean as a wide receiver, which should help as he tries to work his way into the Olympic qualification picture on the track.
Contact Tom Schad at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nyckoles Harbor signs with South Carolina on signing day 2023