South Carolina QB commit Dante Reno not wavering after Gamecocks’ slow start

The text was fired off at 5:36 p.m. on Saturday night after USC lost to Missouri.

“Great game, coach. Kids battled.”

This has become a routine for Dante Reno, South Carolina’s four-star quarterback commit. Sometimes before the clock hits zero on every Gamecocks game — win or lose — Reno fires off a text to head coach Shane Beamer.

“Since he’s been recruiting me, he’s been texting me before my games,” Reno said of Beamer. “So I decided to do it once I committed — and I’ve been doing it ever since. It’s not like a ritual … but it’s something I like to do.”

Added Beamer: “Usually after games, my wife wasn’t at the game Saturday in Missouri. She was probably the first person that sent me a text. I always get a call from my mom, win or lose. Without a doubt, within the first three people that I hear from is always a certain quarterback (Reno) that is committed to us before the game is even over I think, I get a text from him.”

Things are not great in the Gamecocks’ football facility right now. South Carolina’s top two receivers are out. It has 10 offensive linemen injured. It has a defense that is giving up a ton of yards and a quarterback that is getting sacked way too often.

With five games to play, the Gamecocks are 2-5. Barring a miraculous turnaround and at least one unforeseen upset, South Carolina will miss a bowl game for the first time in the Beamer era.

At these junctures, it is easy to worry about the future, to wonder if all the 17- and 18-year-old recruits who have made their pledge but still have not signed any binding documentation will get cold feet.

“None of our commits are pissed off,” Reno said. “I think we’ve actually gained commits since the season (started). Nobody knows that they’re starting seven freshmen on defense. Nobody knows they’re playing two true freshmen at right tackle and left tackle. That their three top receivers are out.

“A lot of people don’t realize that. But all of us (commits) know that,” Reno added. “We all know the opportunity we have going in there.”

Reno, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound quarterback, was the Gamecocks’ first commitment in the Class of 2024. The son of Yale football coach Tony Reno was not all about the glitz and glam of the recruiting process. He did not need to take multiple visits or drag along his recruitment to boost his Instagram following.

The quarterback prospect from Massachusetts made his pledge in July 2022 and hasn’t looked back. Since then, 15 others have joined him as Gamecock commitments — including five-star pass rusher Dylan Stewart and the top player in South Carolina, offensive lineman Josiah Thompson (Dillon High School).

With just under two months until the early signing period, South Carolina’s 2024 recruiting class is ranked 18th in the country by 247Sports, but 10th in the SEC. That comes after South Carolina’s 2023 class ranked 18th in the nation, according to 247Sports.

Reno is a big reason why. He prides himself as an unofficial South Carolina recruiter, texting with just about every single Gamecocks target, trying to convince them to sign on with Beamer and Co.

“It’s kind of fun,” Reno said. “I’ve learned a lot from my dad as well, too. Just how to talk with kids and how to portray the message you want to get across.

“And at the end of the day, you don’t wanna go to a spot where you don’t know the kids who you’re going to play with,” Reno added. “Going in there blind without knowing the kids is not the way I want to do anything.”

After a turbulent start to South Carolina’s season, Reno is more optimistic than anything, excited that the young players he’ll be playing along are already getting meaningful experience. Guys like freshman wide receiver Nyck Harbor, safety Jalon Kilgore, offensive lineman Tree Babalade and others.

And Reno isn’t yet done recruiting. Among the players he’s pushing hard to persuade are four-star athlete Daniel Hill and four-star receiver Braylon Staley (a Tennessee commit) and four-star edge Kameryn Fountain (a Southern California commit).

“Those are probably the top three guys,” Reno said.