Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Nyck Harbor could run his way into Summer Olympics, which would delay his sophomore season at South Carolina

South Carolina five-star freshman wide receiver Nyck Harbor has broken several school records this spring as the star of the Gamecocks’ track team, bringing into question his future on the gridiron. 

Slated to be one of the go-to options in the passing game this fall as a second-year contributor, Harbor was limited much of spring ball to focus on running and recently qualified for nationals in June in hopes of sprinting for Team USA at the Summer Olympics later this year. Harbor blazed a personal-best 20.20 in the 200-meter dash at NCAA East Regionals last week to finish in eighth place, establishing a new South Carolina record. His 10.11 sprint in the 100m was also a new personal high, and qualified him for nationals.

South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer has touched on Harbor’s yearning to run in the Olympics in recent weeks and said he fully supports his goal of doing so. The US Olympic Trials will be held the final week of June in Oregon and if Harbor runs well, he would likely appear in the Summer Olympics in Paris beginning July 26 and running through the first two weeks of the Gamecocks’ fall football camp, which begins Aug. 1. 

“It wouldn’t be great from a football standpoint because of the amount of time that he would miss with football,” Beamer said. “But he and I have talked about it. We met in my office at the end of spring practice, and I told him that, ‘If you could get a chance to run in the Olympics, that is so cool and something that would be really, really awesome for him and our entire university.'”

Harbor was the No. 15 recruit in the Class of 2023 247Sports rankings, choosing South Carolina over Maryland and Michigan and then choosing to focus on wide receiver in his freshman year, though some recruiting analysts think he could have better long-term potential at tight end (along the lines of Kyle Pitts) or even along the front-seven, rushing the passer and matching up with running backs, tight ends and receivers. 247Sports’ Andrew Ivins touted Harbor as his class’ No. 1 “freak” prospect.

Beamer said recently he met with Harbor after spring practice and acknowledged while the timing wouldn’t be ideal with several missed football practices, the opportunity to run in the Olympics is something that would benefit the individual athlete and the university.

“It would be really, really cool for our university, for our football program, for our track program, but most importantly, for Nyck,” Beamer said. “I know how passionate he is about track. He’s a great young man (and) so humble as well, so I’m hoping it happens.”

After losing All-SEC pass-catcher Xavier Legette to the 2024 NFL Draft and Juice Wells to Ole Miss in the transfer portal, the Gamecocks made it a priority to go after several wide receivers in the 2024 recruiting cycle, as well as the transfer portal, to fill the personnel void at the position. 

Harbor is expected to be a leader within the room if he’s able to further develop his game after registering 12 catches for 195 yards and a touchdown during his true freshman season last fall.

MORE: High hopes for two Gamecocks wideouts arriving this week

The Gamecocks will be breaking in quarterback LaNoris Sellers as their starting quarterback in 2024 following Spencer Rattler’s departure to the NFL Draft. The 6-foot-3 Sellers played in three games in 2023, preserving his status as a redshirt freshman this fall. 

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