On a cold and windy evening in Delaware City, on an otherwise quiet Clinton Street, dozens gathered inside The Riverview Salon & Boutique to celebrate Delaware’s best high school football prospect.

MarShawn Lloyd of Middletown had signed his formal letter of intent to play football at the University of South Carolina early that morning, but family and friends, including some Middletown High football players, clapped and cheered when Lloyd, a five-star running back according to Rivals, put on a Gamecocks hat.

If Lloyd had had things his way, those Middletown players in attendance would have been his teammates and classmates all along.

He didn’t have his signing day at his high school in part because he’s no longer in high school. Lloyd, who played all four years at Maryland’s DeMatha Catholic, is finishing high school online after withdrawing from DeMatha in November so he could get down to South Carolina and start classes in January.

Lloyd, 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds, chose South Carolina over Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State and others. He verbally committed in May.

“It’s relieving,” Lloyd said. “The recruiting process is special … I’m truly blessed to be in this position.”

When the opportunity presented itself to go to DeMatha, an athletic power with strong academics in Hyattsville, NaShawn Lloyd made sure her son took it.

“It was the best decision that I made,” she said. “This decision was made by me. MarShawn wanted to stay local, go to school with his friends. He wanted to go to Middletown High School.

“When this opportunity presented itself, I said, ‘MarShawn, you’ll never get another opportunity like this again. And if your friends had this opportunity they would take advantage of it.’”

He pushed back at first, especially when he started to feel the effects of the commute. Some days, NaShawn would drive MarShawn to a DeMatha teammate’s house in Church Hill, Maryland, 35 minutes from Middletown.

The ride from there was another hour and 15 minutes to school. A lot of times NaShawn made the full drive herself, taking MarShawn 90 miles to get to school on time.

That meant some mornings the alarm would sound at 4:45 a.m. and Marshawn wouldn’t get home some nights until 9.

During a short speech Wednesday night, he thanked his mother.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for her,” he told the audience. “I truly do appreciate her for all she does. You deserve the world and more, and I can’t wait to give it all to you.”

With players of Lloyd’s talent and ranking nationally, the NFL is clearly a possibility. He even said during his ceremony that he was signing at South Carolina “for the next three to four years.” Lloyd rushed for almost 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns on 132 carries this year and was setting records in the weight room, according to a story from The Athletic.

“We know that it’s in God’s will for him to go to the next level,” his mother said. “We’re going to pray for him to stay healthy. He’s all for the competition. He doesn’t care who else is coming. He’s coming. He’s going to work hard and do what he needs to do. He knows that there’s a lot expected of him and he’s up for the challenge.”

That’s why it was imperative to get down to South Carolina as soon as possible. Lloyd will get a jump start on classes, but he’ll also get a head start on weight training and the demands of SEC football and will be able to participate in spring practices.

“I definitely have to be more explosive,” he said. “There are guys who are bigger and stronger. The SEC, it’s the best conference and most challenging conference so I just have to be able to learn the from the teaching and do what I can do to be able to succeed.

“Coming from Delaware you always have a chip on your shoulder. It’s a small place. Not too many people know about it for football, but there are some ballers out here and coming back to Delaware and doing this in Delaware was really important to me.”

Contact Jeff Neiburg at jneiburg@delawareonline.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jeff_Neiburg.