COLUMBIA — A crowd of USC students took a break from the daily college grind Monday morning to huddle around a single plasma television.
They stood in silence, waiting anxiously for Jadeveon Clowney - South Pointe High School's defensive end and the nation's No. 1 recruit - to announce his school of choice on ESPN.
And as Clowney reached for the hat embroidered in garnet and white, the crowd erupted.
"When I woke up this morning, the idea of him being a Gamecock had me so excited," said USC freshman Jenna Marie Hill, who was one of many students spreading the news on her cell phone. "Now I can look forward to three years of watching him play!"
"It's amazing; hopefully, it opens the door for other great athletes to come here," sophomore Aaron Henderson said. "Now, it's time to go to Atlanta and win the SEC Championship!"
Electricity was in the air at the Russell House, the heart of USC's campus, as students and athletes buzzed about the news. Freshman Reilly O'Hara heard the cheers echoing through the student center as he walked to class.
"I heard all of the screaming coming from the bookstore, so I knew it was good news," said O'Hara, who attended every Gamecock home game in 2010. "There are a lot of talented players here, and you can add one more to the list."
Kaleb Broome, an offensive tackle and a recent transfer from Georgia Military College, was already looking forward to his first season at USC. He will join Clowney as first-year Gamecocks hoping to shape the next SEC powerhouse program. Broome is a 6-foot-6, 320-pound offensive lineman who played at Aiken High School.
"He had me nervous for there for a minute," Broome said about Clowney's decision to postpone his announcement until Monday. "But I'm glad that he wants to be a part of what we're building. We have the potential to do great things."
Even as the hype swelled, some students were unaffected. Freshman Zachary Cook was going about his Monday morning routine when news of Clowney's decision broke. Though not a football fan, Cook offered his thoughts on the national media coverage that Clowney's decision has attracted to USC.
"I honestly didn't know who he was until I saw him on the cover of the campus newspaper," Cook said. "But it's a big story, so there are a lot of eyes on us right now. I hope it brings added attention to all facets of our school as well as athletics."
To one Gamecock fan, Feb. 14 now will be regarded as more than just a holiday.
"Today is not Valentine's Day anymore," graduate student Lauren Peasley said. "It's Clowney Day."