Recruiting: Gamecocks keeping more prospects at home for 2014

dmclemore@thestate.comJanuary 30, 2014 

Gaffney's Shaq Davidson breaks free during the 2012 Class 4A Division 1 state championship game at Williams-Brice Stadium.

TIM DOMINICK — tdominick@thestate.com Buy Photo

South Carolina’s signing class will have more of a home-grown feel this year.

Eight of the Gamecocks’ 18 commitments are from the Palmetto State for 2014, a year with a deeper overall instate talent pool.

“I like our instate players. It’s a good group,” said Steve Spurrier Jr., USC’s recruiting coordinator. “It’s good to have the best players you can sign instate every year.”

Nineteen of the state’s top 25 in 247Sports’ composite rankings are headed to SEC or ACC schools, compared with nine from the 2013 class.

Two others in the top 25 are headed to Oklahoma State and Wisconsin. Others outside that top group are committed to Louisville, Indiana, Georgia Tech and Duke.

“There’s’ a lot of talent at the top and it’s really deep,” said Keith Niebuhr, recruiting analyst for 247Sports. “When you have guys in the 20 to 25 range still going to SEC schools, there are not a lot of states that can say that.”

The top five includes three prospects poised to leave the state: Spring Valley linebacker Christian Miller (Alabama); Stratford quarterback Jacob Park (Georgia); and Saluda defensive tackle Dexter Wideman (Florida State).

Latta offensive lineman Donell Stanley and Gaffney wide receiver Shaq Davidson – two top South Carolina targets this cycle – headline the Gamecocks’ class instate and overall.

It’s a solid instate group but without a national name such as Jadeveon Clowney (2011) and Marcus Lattimore (2010), Niebuhr said.

“Christian Miller is a legit five-star talent,” Niebuhr said. “Jacob Park may have as much upside as any quarterback in the class. Guys like Donell Stanely and Dexter Wideman are terrific interior players. The state of South Carolina has a little bit of everything. It’s always good there. It may just lack a little bit of star power.”

This year will mark the first time since 2009 that USC signs more instate players than Clemson. Both schools are expected to sign around 20 prospects Wednesday. The smaller-than-normal classes for the Gamecocks and Tigers are among of the reasons local talent is leaving the state, Niebuhr said.

“Maybe in a normal year Blake Bone could go to South Carolina or Clemson, but they have light numbers,” Niebuhr said of the Kentucky-bound receiver from Woodruff.

USC could add one more instate prospect when Wideman decides on signing day whether he’ll choose the Gamecocks or stick with the Seminoles. A change of heart from the Saluda standout would give USC four four-star prospects from instate in this class.

“It’s a good group,” Niebuhr said. “If they can flip Wideman, that would be significant. He’s a really good player.”

It’s important to keep as many top players at home as possible, Spurrier said.

“We always want to try to sign five to 10,” he said. “We want players from this state on our team. In the long run, it makes a difference. They understand about this state and about South Carolina. We do our best to really evaluate those guys and sign as many as we can.”

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