Jalen Christian (2), seen here returning an interception for a touchdown during a game last fall, committed to South Carolina Thursday. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Damascus junior defensive back Jalen Christian committed to South Carolina Thursday, choosing the Gamecocks over Maryland and Virginia Tech, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Christian is expected to play wide receiver in Columbia, and the school will be inheriting one of the Washington area’s most electrifying players. He has starred on both sides of the ball and on special teams for the Swarmin’ Hornets, where he was rarely tested at corner as a junior and totaled 610 receiving and rushing yards and eight touchdowns en route to earning first team All-Met honors.

“I’m a go-getter,” Christian said. “It’s a big thing, just to get a scholarship from college. It’s a big thing, I just got to take advantage of this and get my education.”

(Ricky Carioti / The Washington Post) (Ricky Carioti / The Washington Post)

Christian made his announcement at the end of a pep rally in the Damascus gymnasium Thursday, carrying a small bag onto the floor before grabbing the microphone to announce his choice. There was only one hat in the bag, he said, a black South Carolina cap that cemented a decision he made a few days ago. Christian’s announcement last about one minute, and the crowd erupted after he made the call.

“It was very nerve-wracking,”  Christian said. “It wasn’t at first. But when the girl called my name [to announce]. Then it all just hit me.”

He becomes the ninth player from the class of 2015 to pledge to the Gamecocks, who hosted Christian on an official visit during its spring game festivities in April. Christian briefly met former South Carolina wide receiver Bruce Ellington during the visit, he said, an inspiring interaction considering he models much of his game after the dynamic playmaker. Ellington was selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers last week.

“Bruce is a cool guy,” Christian said, “and he’s like my height.”

Christian compared the small-town feel of Damascus to Columbia, which was one of the primary factors in his decision. Finding a college-town that values supporting the local football team was high on the checklist, and Christian came away from his visit with that feeling from the people inside and outside the program.

“Basically Damascus is a small-town. The community is very involved in the football team and South Carolina reminded me of Damascus. I have a great relationship with the coaches there,” Christian said. “I felt the most comfortable there.”

Highlights of Christian can be found here. 

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