A rising high school star in two sports has announced his decommitment from the South Carolina baseball team to further explore football recruiting opportunities.
And it would likely take a scholarship offer from coach Shane Beamer and the Gamecocks football team — which he doesn’t yet have — to get him back.
Class of 2025 recruit Micah Matthews committed to the USC baseball team three years ago, but the star outfielder is backing off his pledge after also gaining traction as a four-star wide receiver prospect at Turner Ashby (Va.) High School, he said Tuesday.
Matthews, a rising junior listed at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, went from unranked to ranked No. 291 nationally in 247Sports’ latest rankings update after picking up six football offers, including three from Power Five schools.
“I believe that exploring opportunities to play both football and baseball is the right path for me at this stage of my career,” Matthews wrote in a statement posted to the platform X (formerly Twitter). “It is my aspiration to find a university where I can pursue excellence in both sports while also focusing on my academic pursuits.”
Matthews will continue to consider South Carolina, he said.
Since the spring, Matthews has picked up football offers from UNC, West Virginia and Virginia Tech. Fellow Power Five programs Penn State, Virginia, Oregon and Auburn are also showing interest in him, according to SportsTalkSC.
That was enough for Matthews — who has called football his “first true love” — to decommit from the Gamecocks baseball team. He’d initially committed to play for coach Mark Kingston’s squad back in November 2020 when he was 13 years old.
South Carolina baseball had a resurgent 2023 season, ranking as high as No. 3 nationally mid-year and reaching its first NCAA Super Regional since 2018.
“I want to emphasize that this decision is not a reflection of any shortcomings in the University of South Carolina’s baseball program,” Matthews said in making his announcement. “I have the utmost respect for them and the coaching staff, and I am truly grateful for the time and effort they have invested in me.”
In a story published Aug. 24, Matthews told SportsTalkSC that he’d “love to end up at South Carolina” and a football offer would be key to helping him stick to his commitment. At that point, Matthews said, South Carolina football hadn’t started actively recruiting him yet.
Matthews visited USC for its football home opener against Furman on Sept. 9, where he caught up with a number of football and baseball coaches and players. It was his “first real interaction with anyone on the football side of things,” he told SportsTalkSC.
Matthews — who ranks as the No. 19 football athlete in the Class of 2025 — said he’s mainly been in contact with South Carolina running backs coach Montario Hardesty and wide receivers coach Justin Stepp.
South Carolina has offered 17 other wide receiver recruits in the Class of 2025, according to 247Sports. The Gamecocks are yet to receive a Class of 2025 commitment from any player regardless of position.
USC is familiar with football-baseball dual-sport athletes under Beamer.
Current starting linebacker Stone Blanton was at one point a Mississippi State baseball commit and would have played for Kingston this spring had he not injured his shoulder during the 2022 football season. Quarterback Tanner Bailey was a two-sport star in high school but opted to focus on football in college.
“They’ve both watched my film and they both communicated that they really love my versatility and all that I can bring to the table,” Matthews told SportsTalkSC of Hardesty and Stepp. “So, from my understanding, they are both excited to start the recruiting process with me and get to know me a little better as a person, and I can get to know them better as well.”
Football-wise, Matthews has already visited Penn State and will visit North Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia Tech later this fall. Through four games this season for his Bridgewater, Virginia high school, he’s caught 31 passes for 454 yards and four touchdowns.
Matthews, who ranks as Perfect Game’s No. 13 outfielder for his draft class, could also be a high-round pick in the 2025 MLB Draft and jump directly to professional baseball.
If he ends up going to college and playing both sports as currently planned, Matthews told the website he’d prefer to sign as a football recruit over a baseball recruit.
“I will always hold the University of South Carolina in high regard and will continue to consider them as a potential landing spot due to the relationships I have formed during this process,” Matthews said in his statement.