It all just fell into place for Chaz Elder.
The four-star defensive back from College Park (Ga.) Banneker committed to South Carolina in November and announced his decision during the telecast of the Under Armour All-America Game on Thursday night.
"I just feel at home up there," said the nation's seventh-best safety.
Columbia felt like home for many reasons, one of which was the Gamecocks' defensive scheme. South Carolina runs a 4-2-5, which means there is always an extra defensive back on the field. That certainly will help Elder get more playing time -- possibly even this fall.
While coaching changes can often cause a prospect to rethink his recruitment, South Carolina's coaching changeup actually helped the Gamecocks with Elder. Former defensive backs coach Lorenzo Ward was one of the coaches recruiting Elder. When he was tabbed to replace former defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, who took the head-coaching position at Southern Miss, Elder felt even more confident in his decision.
Elder planned to announce his decision in September but, just before he was set to alert the recruiting world, decided against it. He said that since then he had gone back and forth for months. He was also considering Georgia and Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs, he said, weren't that hard to turn down, even though most of his family roots for the in-state team.
"They're cool with it," Elder said. "They understood. They're supportive."
Elder was one of the standout players in the practices leading up to the Under Armour All-America Game.
"He has great instincts," said NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, who coached the Black team this week. "You can't teach that and that's one thing that he has."
Said Elder, "Deion liked me. The coaches liked me. I think I'm doing pretty good."
But Elder was admittedly taken aback by his own performance.
"Sometimes I kind of play to my competition," he said. "But this time I've played above my competition. It's kind of surprised me."
Now if he can just surprise himself in his new home.
Dave Hooker covers Southeast and Atlantic Coast recruiting. He has covered recruiting and college football for more than a decade. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.