CHARLOTTE -- Tori Childers is coming home.
"I figure you can't go wrong playing wide receiver for Steve Spurrier," the former Rock Hill High School standout said, discussing his commitment to South Carolina on Friday. "I'll be there in June."
A 6-foot-5, 220-pound receiver who caught 18 touchdowns and just over 1,100 yards in his last two years as a Bearcat, Childers is a late addition to the Gamecocks' recruiting class. Childers' height and leaping ability makes him a good addition to a receiver corps that struggled to find a complement to 6-0 slot receiver Kenny McKinley last year.
He'll have four years of eligibility.
"Big kid, he can make an impact," said Bearcats coach Joe Montgomery. "I don't know if he can do it this year. Tell you what he will do, he will go get the ball, and that's what all coaches need."
Montgomery also credited Childers' blocking, a trait that had him getting potential looks as a tight end. Spurrier has repeatedly harped on the shoddy blocking his USC receivers have shown, leading him to cycle through candidates last season.
If Childers showcases that ability in preseason camp, perhaps he'll get a look. It won't be easy, considering the Gamecocks are deeper at receiver than any other position, but Childers is no stranger to hardship.
"After the past couple of years, I can handle anything," he said.
Childers, who came out of Rock Hill in 2006 as a two-sport standout, took a weird path to Columbia, traveling up and down the East Coast instead of the simple hour down I-77. He committed to North Carolina on the hope he could play football and basketball, but when he didn't qualify academically, the Tar Heels placed him in prep school.
They originally wanted him to go to Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy but Hargrave didn't have a scholarship available, telling Childers to wait until the next season. Childers worked for an entire year, saving money for Hargrave since the school didn't offer a full scholarship, and continued his football conditioning.
He was due to report to Hargrave in August 2007 and went to a gym for a pickup basketball game in July. Waiting were some members of the North Carolina basketball team, who were working a camp.
"I was there just playing ball, they asked if I wanted to play pickup," Childers said. "Then the coach from New Hampton offered me a scholarship."
Childers learned about New Hampton School, located about an hour northwest of Boston -- "In the middle of nowhere," Childers laughed. He informed the coach he was a football player and the coach told him if he wanted to play both, go ahead.
Childers made all-conference in football to put himself back on the recruiting radar and averaged 10 points and seven rebounds as a sixth man on the court. He finally achieved the long-awaited test scores in February, just as the mania of recruiting season was dying, and received notices from the Gamecocks, Tar Heels, Auburn and S.C. State.
He visited Auburn last week and was in Columbia three days ago while on spring break. He made his commitment immediately after and said he was receiving the paperwork from assistant head coach Ron Cooper on Friday.
"I called coach Cooper and told him I wanted to be a Gamecock," Childers said. "Should be done by Tuesday at the latest."
Childers, playing in a run-based system at Rock Hill, caught 39 passes for 650 yards and 11 touchdowns as Rock Hill won its second state championship in 2004, his junior season. He nabbed 30 catches for 482 yards and seven TDs as a senior and then reported to the basketball court, where he ended his career with another state championship.
Childers is a basketball player by birth. His father, Norris Gurley, was a 6-8 reserve forward at Virginia Tech, where he roomed with Dell Curry. One of the Hokies' assistant coaches then was former Tech player Bobby Stevens, who later became coach at Rock Hill and welcomed Childers to the squad.
But even after averaging a double-double per game during his senior season, football was calling to Childers. He pledged to the Tar Heels thinking he could play both sports, but once he had to go to prep school and UNC shook up its football coaching staff -- John Bunting was fired and Butch Davis hired -- Childers didn't feel the same way.
"Dell is like family to me," Childers said. "I just finished eating with him and he gave me the nod, that it was OK with him."
Even though Spurrier told Childers basketball wasn't an option, the ex-Bearcat liked what he heard. He's set to graduate from New Hampton on May 22 and return to the area before preseason camp.
"I was with (USC hoops star) Devan Downey (on Thursday), and he said, 'We can use you, as well,'" Childers said. "Coach Spurrier told me I was sticking to the gridiron."