Under-the-radar tight end hopes camp performance leads to Gamecocks offer

South Carolina has made Oscar Delp of Cumming, Georgia its top priority for the tight end position in the 2022 class. But the Gamecocks aren’t the only ones who covet the five-star. Clemson, Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Michigan are also in hot pursuit.

Where do the Gamecocks turn if Delp does not choose them? One possibility emerged from a camp session Friday.

Peyton Strickland (6-3, 220) of Goffstown, New Hampshire has been on no one’s recruiting radar. His only offer is from home-state New Hampshire. With the encouragement of former Gamecock star linebacker Corey Miller, Strickland came down to USC on Friday to work out for tight ends coach Erik Kimrey.

Strickland has family in Irmo, and Miller is friends with his family there. He forwarded Miller some of his film and he passed it on to the Gamecock staff.

“He told us, if he didn’t have confidence in my ability, and he didn’t think that they would think anything of it, he wouldn’t have sent it to them,” Strickland said. “He said it looks like they believe I could be able to play at that level.”

Strickland is still in school, so he doesn’t have open dates right now to bounce around from camp to camp. But he and his family decided to take advantage of this opportunity to get in front of the Gamecock coaches, and he’s glad he did.

“I personally feel like I did pretty good,” Strickland said. “There’s always room to improve on certain things. I could probably be a little tighter on my route running. Nonetheless, I still had a pretty good day. I had a high catch percentage. I caught all of the balls that were in my wingspan, regardless of if they were behind me or above me. In that aspect, I feel that I did pretty good.

“The main thing the coaching staff was telling me was, just work on the route running a little bit. I know that’s something I have to work on on my own. I’m a big guy, so I’m fast in a straight line. And I can jump out of most gyms — but getting a little more flexible in my hips and getting a little better tight route running, that’s something they told me as well.”

Strickland said football players like him in New Hampshire get very little exposure to major programs like USC. This camp visit gave him the chance to show off his skills that have gone overlooked on the recruiting scene. While he wasn’t on the Gamecocks’ tight end board prior to Friday, he certainly is now.

“Coach Kimrey said they have one recruit on their list right now that they have offered” at the position, Strickland said. “For my class, they have only one offer out to tight ends. He said, ‘Look, this guy already has the offer, he was our first offer, but he also has offers to other places, so there’s no telling if he could commit somewhere else.’ So then, that spot becomes open. He said we’re at the top of their list when it comes to looking for tight ends, and there’s always the possibility that we could step in and be in that spot.”

Strickland is such a good athlete, he set his school record in the discus with a throw of 156 feet and 5 inches, and he also won the state championship in the event. At the USC camp, he ran a 4.67 in the 40-yard dash and recorded a 35-inch vertical. He can also play wide receiver.