Recruiting: Coaches rev up as dead period ends

January 4, 2010 

  • Phil Kornblut

    Recruiting Buzz

    Appears every Monday in your printed paper.

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

THE DEAD PERIOD for football recruiting ended Sunday, and coaches are back on the road full force.

With the exception of a break during the coaches' convention starting Jan. 10 in Orlando, Fla., recruiters will be on the move through the end of January. National Signing Day is Feb. 3.

The number of uncommitted major prospects in the state was reduced by one Saturday when defensive back John Fulton of Manning committed to Alabama over USC during the Under Armour All American Game on ESPN.

Another USC target, wide receiver Kenny Shaw of Orlando, committed to Florida State during the game.

This weekend it's the US Army All American Game in San Antonio. Players in the game of local interest are Clemson-bound TL Hannawide receiver Martavis Bryant, Darlington defensive back Victor Hampton, Byrnes running back Marcus Lattimore, Byrnes defensive end Brandon Willis and Hargrave (Va.) Prep defensive end Ego Ferguson Jr., a USC target.

Ferguson is looking to visit USC on Jan. 15, while Hampton is expected to commit to the Gamecocks during the game.

Lattimore will visit USC on Jan. 15 and Oregon on Jan. 22. He was scheduled to visit Georgia on Jan. 29 but has dropped the Bulldogs. He has visited Auburn and Penn State. USC and Auburn are the frontrunners. Lattimore will announce his decision on Feb. 2 at his church.

Willis, who de-committed Saturday from Tennessee, will announce during the game for either North Carolina or UCLA.

Defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd of Philadelphia, who was strongly pursued by USC, said in San Antonio on Sunday that he is down to Ohio State, Florida and North Carolina. He will announce his choice during the game.

Beaufort linebacker Justin Parker, who had been favoring USC or Clemson, wrote in his recruiting diary in the Beaufort Gazette/Island that LSU now is the leader ahead of USC, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Tennessee.

"I know some people will question that because they feel like I'm set on a school already," Parker said. "But where I spend the next three or four years of my life is important to me, so I'm trying to consider everything. It's still pretty close between the top schools."

Parker has taken his official visit to USC and is scheduled to visit Clemson on Jan. 8, LSU on Jan. 15 and Georgia Tech on Jan. 29. He plans to announce on Signing Day.

Clemson will have its biggest recruiting weekend of the month with 15 official visits currently scheduled this weekend, most by committed prospects. Besides Parker, other non-committed prospects scheduled for visits are defensive end Tavaris Barnes of Jacksonville, Fla., defensive lineman Ethan Farmer of Tabor City, N.C., athlete Darius Lipford of Lenoir, N.C., and running back D.J. Howard of Lincoln, Ala.

Barnes has been committed to Florida State, but he has taken an official visit to USC and is scheduled to visit North Carolina on Jan. 15.

Farmer will visit N.C. State on Jan. 15, North Carolina on Jan. 22 and Duke on Jan. 29. He has been favoring the Tar Heels.

Lipford is a North Carolina commitment and will visit Chapel Hill on Jan. 15. He also has taken an official visit to Duke.

Howard has been committed to Auburn has some doubts as to whether Auburn will let him be a full time running back. Clemson has told him he will be strictly a running back there.

Howard is now the only running back target on Clemson's board since James White of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., committed to Wisconsin over the weekend.

Offensive lineman Morgan Moses of Richmond, Va., said last week he was recently contacted by USC recruiter Jay Graham.

"If I don't qualify in January, I will consider them. Right now, it is either Florida or Virginia," he said.

If he does not qualify in time to enroll in January, he will enroll next August, allowing USC back into the mix. He says if would be between USC, Florida, and Virginia.

Wide receiver Jeremy Deering of Tampa has set a Jan. 8 visit to Florida State to go along with the Jan. 15 visit he set with USC. Deering has visited Purdue and Illinois. He said he does not have a fifth visit, and he doesn't have a favorite right now. He is planning on a Signing Day decision.

Tight end Mychal Rivera of the College of the Canyons (Calif.) JC plans to take an official visit to USC either Jan. 15 or 22. He's expecting a visit from Gamecocks coach Jeep Hunter this week. He also plans to visit Utah State, Kansas State, Cal and Syracuse.

USC-bound offensive lineman Trammell Williams of Jacksonville has been contacted by Oregon and is looking at a possible visit there Jan. 22. He is set to visit USC on Jan. 15. Williams said his USC commitment remains strong.

Manning Shrine Bowl defensive end Dexter Morant has been a Georgia commitment since July, but he said last week he would like to take official visits to USC and Clemson.

"My commitment to Georgia is pretty strong," Morant said. "But Clemson has a good program, too. And USC is closer to home and has a good program, and I think they are going to step up in the next couple of years."

Defensive lineman Jeffery Whitaker of Warner Robins, Ga., was down for an official visit to USC for Jan. 15. But in an interview last week with Scout.com, Whitaker named a final five that did not include the Gamecocks - Cal, North Carolina, Georgia, Auburn and Miami.

Defensive lineman Ainsley Miller of Concord, N.C., is hopeful for an offer from Clemson.

"I talked recently with coach (Dan) Brooks," Miller said, "and he said they've still got me on their minds. He said we'll see where we can go with that."

Defensive lineman Eric Humphrey of Dallas landed an offer from Clemson late in the season, but he says the Tigers have not followed up with him. Humphrey has taken official visits to Oklahoma and Texas Tech and is scheduled to visit Arkansas, Wake Forest and Baylor in January. He has no favorite.

Chester offensive lineman R.J. Canty said he will visit East Carolina and William and Mary this month. He is hoping some other major programs will show interest based on his Shrine Bowl performance.

Lake City athlete Sheldon Robinson has been offered by Butler County (Kan.) JC and he also heard from Georgia Military JC.

Junior linebacker Lateek Townsend (6-3, 208) of Marlboro County has a half dozen offers with more likely to come. USC, Clemson, East Carolina, Illinois, N.C. State and Maryland are the offers. He does not have a favorite, but he did indicate the decision could come down to the Gamecocks and Tigers.

"I feel pretty good about signing with an instate team," Townsend said. "I went to a Carolina bowl practice. I talked to a lot of the players. I'm going to try to get to both schools for basketball games. I have likes and dislikes for both teams. I don't like one more than the other."

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