Coaching news may ignite recruiting

December 1, 2008 

  • Phil Kornblut

    Recruiting Buzz

    Appears every Monday in your printed paper.

    Read Phil Kornblut's USC recruiting reports on GoGamecocks.com

WITH THE EXPECTED announcement this week of a new coach, and with the dominating victory against USC Saturday, Clemson hopes to quickly reignite a recruiting campaign that’s been stagnant since Tommy Bowden’s resignation. The Tigers received a nice boost last Tuesday when long time commitment offensive lineman J.K. Jay (6-foot-7, 275 pounds) of Christ Church, reaffirmed his pledge.

Jay had been looking around in recent weeks and had taken an unofficial visit to Georgia. "He took a couple of visits and researched some things,” Jay’s father said Sunday. “He grew up Orange. He sat down and did some soul searching and he came to that decision and stuck with everything he started with."

The Tigers also played host to one of the nation’s top running back prospects in Bryce Brown (6-0, 215) of Wichita, Kan. Brown also has taken official visits to Missouri and Oregon and will visit Purdue this weekend. He has been committed to Miami where his brother is a linebacker.

Uncommitted defensive back Jonathan Meeks (6-2, 193) of Rock Hill and Hargrave Prep, Va., was at Clemson Saturday and said the visit boosted the Tigers with him. “That was my first time going to a Clemson game,” he said. “Interest is high because their safety is leaving and I’m a mid year guy and have a chance to play right away.” Meeks has taken official visits to N.C. State and North Carolina and is looking at Clemson, USC, Tennessee and Florida for his final visits. He’s expecting visits this week from Clemson’s Billy Napier and USC’s Ron Cooper.

Clemson commitment running back Rod McDowell (5-10, 175) of Sumter also attended the USC-Clemson game. In fact, he’ll be back at Death Valley this Saturday playing in the 4A-1 Championship Game. McDowell met with some coaches but is keeping his options open. He plans to set official visits with Clemson, USC and Kentucky.

USC will try to keep its recruiting momentum despite the setback to the Tigers. The Gamecocks are sitting on 22 commitments for the 2009 class following the commitment last week of defensive back D.J. Swearinger (6-0, 200) of Greenwood and the loss of committed offensive lineman Johnnie Farms (6-3, 306) of Perry, Ga., to North Carolina.

Also last week the Gamecocks picked up their second commitment for 2010 from defensive lineman Kelcy Quarles (6-5, 270) of Greenwood.

But, the Gamecocks recruiting efforts could take a hit with the shake up of the coaching staff, in particular, the departure of recruiting coordinator David Reaves for Tennessee. Reaves was USC’s lead recruiter on some of its top remaining targets like running back Jarvis Giles, athlete Lindsay Lamar and running back Dontae Aycock.

Giles (6-0, 180) made an official visit to Nebraska over the weekend and now will decide between the Gamecocks and the Huskers, though Reaves could get Tennessee back in the picture since Giles was committed to the Vols before Phillip Fulmer’s resignation. Nebraska coach Bo Pellini is scheduled for an in home visit Sunday. Giles also is expecting USC to visit him this week.

Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson is a strong candidate for the Mississippi State job, and should he leave, that could have a negative impact because of his relationships with commitments Stephon Gilmore and Devonte Holloman.

John Hunt’s firing as offensive line coach should not hurt recruiting since that was not his strong suit.

USC offensive line target James Carpenter (6-5, 300) of Coffeyville JC, Kan., committed Saturday night to Alabama after returning from an official visit to Mississippi.

Quarterback Joei Fiegler (6-3, 207) of Georgia Military JC made an unofficial visit to USC last week. Fiegler has been committed to Alabama-Birmingham but would be interested in switching if the Gamecocks offer. “They seem pretty interested,” the lefthander said. “They like me. Coach Spurrier thinks I can help them win.” Fiegler said he’s waiting on a math course grade which will determine if he can get out in December or if he has to wait until March.

Defensive lineman Nick Stone (6-2, 240) of Durham, N.C. hopes to take official visits to Clemson, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Wake Forest and Ohio. He’s been to Clemson unofficially. Ohio is his only offer thus far.

Defensive back Josh Hunter (6-2, 175) of Charlotte, a North Carolina commitment, continues to hear from USC and said he will take an official visit with the Gamecocks this month. He has visited Colorado and West Virginia.

Defensive lineman Brandon Moore (6-6, 318) of Montgomery, Ala., will take an official visit to Clemson in January. Moore has been recruited for the Tigers by Swinney and has maintained he will visit if Swinney stays as coach. Moore is scheduled to visit Florida Dec. 13, Miami Jan. 17 and Alabama Jan. 24.

USC remains one of the frontrunners for defensive back Jonathan Scott (6-4, 185) of Daytona Beach, Fla. He also likes West Virginia and Alabama. He’s taken official visits to each. He’s also still having contact from Clemson.

Defensive end Euclid Cummings (6-2, 235) of Roswell, Ga., has a top four of USC, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Florida. He is scheduled to visit Tech Dec. 13.

Wide receiver Lamar Scruggs (6-4, 212) of Jacksonville, Fla., plans to sit down this week and put his official visits down on the calendar. He said he will schedule dates with USC, Florida, Tennessee, Illinois and South Florida. “I grew up a Gator fan and it would be pretty hard to tell them no,” Scruggs said. “I fit in better with USC’s offense. They run the same type offense we run.”

Defensive back Justin Green (5-10, 180) of Louisville remains committed to Ohio State but plans to take an official visit to Clemson Jan. 19. He is scheduled to visit Ohio State this weekend and he also plans to visit Alabama.

Blythewood defensive end Justin Anderson (6-6, 260) has commmitted to Maryland according to the Baltimore Sun.

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