South Carolina freshman quarterback Gauthier vigorously attacks college learning curve
Colten Gauthier has been on South Carolina's campus for only a few months, and he already feels more stability then he ever did in high school.
The freshman quarterback had four offensive coordinators and three head coaches during his high school career in which he played his final three seasons at Hebron Christian Academy in Dacula, Georgia.
That's one of the main reasons the 18-year-old thinks the sky's the limit for his potential to improve.
"I believe I have a very high ceiling," Gauthier said. "In high school, I had a lot of coaches and didn't have a lot of stability. I didn't really have a chance to grow. Now I'm in a stable offense with stable people, and I think I'm opening some eyes with how high my ceiling is."
Gauthier committed to USC under former coach Will Muschamp and his staff, and new coach Shane Beamer on signing day credited Gauthier with being the glue that helped the majority of December's small incoming class remain intact.
"I committed here to South Carolina and fell in love with the place," Gauthier said. "I wasn't committed to coaches or anything like that. I was committed to Columbia, South Carolina. So I just took that mentality with holding the guys together. It was pretty cool because I'd developed a really good relationship with a lot of the guys already through recruiting and that sort of thing. Just reaching out here and there every day.
"I'm rooming with (wide receiver) Sam Reynolds and we were kind of the two guys who were the pioneers reaching out to guys and making sure the class stayed together. The people that stuck with us and are here now are having as much fun as I'm having. There's a smile on our faces every day and the energy in the building when we come in every day is just unreal and we're excited to keep moving forward."
One of the holdovers from the previous staff, albeit in an off-field role, is former USC quarterback and current director of football operations Connor Shaw. He's still heavily involved with helping develop the quarterbacks on a roster that has sophomore Luke Doty (who started last year's final two games), FCS transfer Jason Brown and walk-on Connor Jordan.
There are days when it will just be Gauthier and Shaw working side by side in the indoor facility "just going through the script, every single play over and over again. That's what it's going to take. I understand that as young as I am in this process I'm going to continue to do that and it's just submerging yourself in the playbook, understanding what's asked of you and being able to execute as best as you can."
He has impressed center Eric Young, who has mentioned Gauthier's ability in meetings to recognize specific plays, and offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield gives his young quarterback a high early grade.
"It's shocking how much offense we have in right now and how he should be a senior in high school and how he's been able to learn it and execute it," Satterfield said. "Everything even from the pre-snap stuff. We threw a ton on that kid, and he's done a really nice job. (I also like) his size -- he's put on some weight, almost 20 pounds, and you can feel his presence out there. He has elite arm talent, and I'm just real excited where his game is going."
Gauthier said his best physical trait is his arm -- "I believe I have one of the best arms," he said -- and he showed that in high school. In 34 career games he completed 444 of 811 passes for 6,541 yards with 61 touchdowns. He was ranked the 23rd-best pro-style quarterback nationally by the 247Sports Composite. He also played varsity baseball.
He didn't reveal much about what USC's revamped offense expects to look like other than to say it's a pro-style scheme in which the Gamecocks will huddle, something he never did in high school.
"That's really cool because some teams that don't huddle, your quarterback can't lead," Gauthier said. "When you get in the huddle, everybody's looking at you and you have to be calm, cool, collected and be assertive all at the same time. You get a really good opportunity to lead the team that way. That's what I'm excited for because another strong suit I believe I have is great leadership qualities. I still have a lot to work on and it will be the first time in a huddle for me, but it's really cool how much I've grown."