South Aiken High School quarterback Bo Baldwin has garnered more attention from college coaches and scouts than any other area football player in several years.
It's easy to understand why when looking at the 6-foot-5, 232-pound signal caller who possesses a big-time arm, tantalizing skills and was recently selected as the No. 1 Player to Watch for the 2013 season by the Aiken Standard.
Because of injuries that have limited his playing time to just eight complete games over the past two seasons, attention's the only thing colleges have shown Baldwin.
That all changed on Monday, when the rising senior finally got his first scholarship offer. The University of South Carolina officially made Baldwin a gray-shirt offer.
It isn't a traditional scholarship offer, but it's a breakthrough for a young man who has been waiting for a college to officially declare its interest.
“He's pretty excited,” Thoroughbred head coach Jeremy West said of Baldwin. “To get an offer is outstanding. It takes some pressure off his shoulders.”
West said South Carolina is only extending a gray-shirt offer at the moment because it doesn't have room to add Baldwin on a full scholarship for 2014. The Gamecocks anticipate major changes on defense and will likely use most of their available scholarships on that side of the ball.
In the interim, Baldwin will enroll for nine hours of classes and pay his own way for his first semester. But come Jan. 1, 2015, he'll have a full scholarship and have four full years of eligibility remaining. West compared the situation to a player who goes to college as an early enrollee. He also added it's possible that South Carolina could choose to redshirt Baldwin for another season after, and have him for four years starting in the 2016 season.
“They don't have any spots. … They've done (gray-shirt offers) before and it seemed to work out well,” said West, who added that Baldwin hasn't made a commitment in spite of an enthusiastic reaction to the offer, which goes beyond just having an offer. “It's close to home and it's a top-10 program.”
Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than 14 years after graduating from Syracuse University.