Jalon Kilgore feels at home every time he goes to Columbia, South Carolina.
The three-star defensive back from Eatonton, Ga., has now visited the Gamecocks four times. His most recent trip came the weekend of June 10 on his official visit.
That visit sealed the deal for Kilgore, who is the newest member of Shane Beamer‘s 2023 classes.
“Every time I go back, it’s just the same feeling where I feel like that’s the best place where I feel like I can carry on the torch,” Kilgore said. “It’s the best place for me and my family.”
Kilgore credited South Carolina with getting his recruitment “popping” earlier this year. The Gamecocks offered him back on Jan. 22.
Since then, Beamer and defensive backs coach Torrian Gray have kept Kilgore as one of their top priorities.
“They were the first big school to actually believe in me and put their trust in me,” Kilgore said. “The fact that they stuck with that through the whole process – they didn’t offer just to offer, they actually endured with me and believed in my talents and kept in touch to make sure I was one of their top guys. That really meant a lot.”
Gray has been the main point of contact for Kilgore. The newest Gamecock commit has seen how Gray works with his players on the field and in the meeting room.
“He’ll break them down to build them up,” Kilgore said. “He’ll get on to you if you’re doing wrong, but he’ll build you up and give you confidence on the field. Just seeing what type of coach he is, because I grew up with coaches that have also been like that. Knowing that I could see that again possibly in my life, I know that’s going to build me to be a better player.”
Kilgore’s speed, size and versatility stand out to Gray most. The coach told Kilgore he could see him at safety, corner or nickel when he gets to Columbia.
Gray and Derrick Moore, the program’s executive director of character and player development, spoke with Kilgore on his official visit. But the clincher for the Gamecocks came during Kilgore’s conversation with Beamer.
“He was just saying that he loved the way I play,” Kilgore said. “He probably loves my family more than he does me. He was just saying that I could be really be a big asset with this team. Through gaining players like me and the other safeties and the other linebackers, that we could really be a top defense in the SEC.”
Beamer’s energy and enthusiasm for the program sets him apart from other coaches for Kilgore.
“He’s very influencing with the practices I went to,” Kilgore said. “He’s in the practices, he’s getting in with the guys. He’s not just stuck out or seems like he’s better than anybody. Everything that he does is for other people. He’s not a selfish person. He looks at everybody, sees if everybody’s OK before he makes sure (he) is OK.”
Current players such as MarShawn Lloyd and Emory Floyd hosted Kilgore on his official visit. Those two and the staff treated Kilgore as if he already wore garnet and black. Among other things, they visited Beamer’s house for a dinner of steak, crab legs and shrimp.
After that weekend, Kilgore knew he wanted Columbia to be home. He Facetimed Beamer and Gray on June 12 to tell them the news.
“They were really excited,” Kilgore said. “They were fired up about it.”
Kilgore is planning to enroll at South Carolina in January. When he does, he’s joining a class that has built plenty of momentum already this summer.
“Just the school and coach Beamer’s just building a bigger and better community,” Kilgore said. “With the new recruits coming in and committing, I believe that South Carolina could be on top in the East the next couple years coming.”