South Carolina Football: Gamecocks bringing in 5-star kicker/punter

South Carolina football special teams coordinator Pete Lembo reeled in 5-star kicker/punter Mason Love.

South Carolina football home venue Williams-Brice Stadium
South Carolina football home venue Williams-Brice Stadium / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Early Signing Period for college football began on Wednesday, and National Letters of Intent have been flying in from all over the country. While most of those NLIs are not sent in via fax machine anymore, commitments are not official until paperwork is completed. The South Carolina football program is hoping to have most of their class secured by the end of the Early Signing Period.

One of the players in the class who made things official is 5-star kicker/punter Mason Love.

Position: P/K
Recruiting Ranking: 5 stars (Kohl's Kicking), 3 stars (On3, 247Sports), 2 stars (Rivals), Unranked (ESPN); Under Armour All-American
Measurables: 6'0"; 175 pounds; 4.7-second 40-yard dash
Former Player Comp: Spencer Lanning

Mason Love will be on scholarship as a freshman with the South Carolina football program. That is pretty rare as SEC programs don't always give scholarships to their specialists, especially out of high school. Because of that, expectations for Love are high.

He follows in the footsteps of some of the best kickers and punters to ever come through the Gamecock program as USC is on a great run of big-time specialists: Ryan Succop, Spencer Lanning, Elliott Fry, Sean Kelly, Joseph Charlton, Parker White, Mitch Jeter, and Kai Kroeger all played at Carolina in the last 15 years (Kroeger is returning in 2024).

Kohl's Kicking ranks Love as the top punter in the class of 2024 and has tabbed him as the 22nd-best kicker. Like the 2022 version of Kai Kroeger (the best punting season in school history), Love excels at getting major air under his punts and has enough leg to combine 45+ yard averages with 4.5-second hang times. As a kicker, he made multiple field goals over 50 yards during his senior season, including a game-winner.

With one more year for Kroeger at punter and veteran kicker Alex Herrera believed to be in line to replace Mitch Jeter, a redshirt year might be in the cards for Love. However, starting at either spot (or even both) could be his reality by the time the 2025 season begins. If he does not redshirt in '24, he could be the Gamecocks' kickoff specialist as he banged touchback after touchback in high school.

Love reportedly runs a 4.7 in the 40-yard dash, meaning he could be a candidate for some fake punts or field goals as a ball-carrier, something that the Gamecocks have done a handful of times in recent years.

His size and kicking versatility are reminiscent of former Gamecock great Spencer Lanning. Lanning is one of the most accurate field goal kickers in South Carolina football history, and he went on to a brief NFL career as a punter. If Love can add weight like Lanning did, he could get stronger, perhaps adding a little distance to his already-impressive output.

You can watch some of his film here.

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