South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer should be glad that Vanderbilt transfer receiver Jayden McGowan doesn’t hold a grudge. He was not recruited by the Gamecocks when he came out of Laurens High School in 2021. He went to Vanderbilt and caught 80 passes over the last two seasons, including five against Beamer’s Gamecocks.
Once McGowan’s name hit the transfer portal, Beamer was quick to try to make up for that slight. He and receivers coach Justin Stepp offered, and this weekend they hosted McGowan on an official visit.
“It was great,” McGowan said. “I felt really familiar with everything because I knew most of the coaches on staff from before. I know a lot of the guys who visited too, so I felt like I was real familiar with everything going on there.
“They showed me how they would be using me, the way that I actually want to be used. They said I would be in the slot, outside, backfield. I would be able run deep routes. I’d be able to run intermediate and short routes. They were just showing me I could be very versatile in this offense.”
Not only did Stepp spell out to McGowan how he would be used in the offense, but special teams coach Pete Lembo also let him know he’d get plenty of work with him as well.
“I was with Coach Lembo all weekend,” he said. “I really like him. He’s a real cool dude. He mentioned how it would be both returners, the punt and kick returns.”
McGowan and Beamer also got together before he left for the trip back to Nashville.
“He was just letting know that he wanted me here and there was a mistake before not getting me here and they don’t want to make that mistake again,” McGowan said. “South Carolina needs playmakers and he wants me to be one of the difference-makers on the team.”
McGowan got a taste of gameday at Williams-Brice Stadium this season when his Commodores lost to the Gamecocks 49-7. He had just one catch for three yards, but he did return a kick 29 yards.
“I love the support they have,” McGowan said. “It was freezing and rainy and it was still a big fan turnout. It was really loud, the fan support, no matter the weather, no matter what the circumstances are. It was surreal to be able to play in that environment, and that wasn’t even the most packed that it would be. And being able to hear ‘Sandstorm’ and stuff, I’ve always wanted to return a kick to ‘Sandstorm.’ ”
All in all, McGowan said the visit opened his eyes to all things Gamecocks.
“It was a little bit better than I expected, but I liked South Carolina to begin with,” McGowan said. “I got to connect with them seeing how now I’m a big target for them. I really see that they are really genuine, and I got to connect with everyone.”
As for what’s ahead regarding a decision, McGowan is still working on that.
“I told them the decision could be soon or it could be the week after this weekend coming up,” McGowan. “There’s just other things I’m looking into to decide. I have something planned (with Boston College) but it’s not official yet. I am really interested in Boston College. It depends on how things go this week and the conversations I have with coaches on both staffs.”
McGowan was one of two receivers to visit over the weekend. The other was Jared Brown of Coastal Carolina.