USC’s top recruiting hits, misses and surprises under Steve Spurrier

The Class of 2014 signed on Wednesday will be coach Steve Spurrier’s 10th class at USC. A look at some of the top hits, misses and surprise hits from his first nine classes.

February 3, 2014 

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com Buy Photo

TOP HITS

Four- or five-star prospects who lived up to their ranking.

1. JADEVEON CLOWNEY (2011): Picked USC over Alabama and Clemson and made a lasting impact on the program. Had a school-record 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss in 2012. Is third all-time in sacks (24), second all-time in tackles for loss (47). A first-team All-American in 2012 (unanimous) and 2013.

2. MARCUS LATTIMORE (2010): Signed out of Byrnes High with USC over Auburn and holds the school record for rushing touchdowns in a season (17) and career (38). He also will be remembered for his work ethic and character off the field, especially as he recovered from two devastating knee injuries.

3. ALSHON JEFFERY (2009): Originally a Southern Cal commit, Jeffery pulled off a signing day shocker and picked the Gamecocks. He set several USC records, including receiving yards in a season (1,517, 2010) and career receiving yards (3,042).

4. STEPHON GILMORE (2009): He started a four-year streak of USC signing Mr. Football in the state. He led the team in tackles in 2010 (79) and had a team high in interceptions in 2010 (3) and 2011 (4).

5. MELVIN INGRAM (2007): Signed as a linebacker out of Hamlet, N.C., eventually moved to the defensive line. Was team leader in sacks in 2010 (9) and 2011 (10). Ran a fake punt 68 yards for a touchdown in 2011’s 45-42 win over Georgia. Consensus first-team All-American in 2011.

TOP SURPRISE HITS

Three-star prospects who exceeded expectations:

1. KENNY MCKINLEY (2005): Versatile athlete from Mableton, Ga., was low three-star prospect who excelled at USC, setting receiving records that Alshon Jeffery would break. Still has most consecutive games at USC with a reception (43).

2. RYAN SUCCOP (2005): First scholarship kicker signed under Spurrier, became standout contributor as kicker and punter. From Hickory, N.C., Succop is still second in many USC kicking records behind Collin Mackie.

3. ERIC NORWOOD (2006): Signed as defensive end from Acworth, Ga., Norwood shifted to linebacker and holds school records for career sacks (29) and tackles for loss (54.5). Was named first-team All-American in 2009.

4. D.J. SWEARINGER (2009): Originally committed to Tennessee, Greenwood star signed with Gamecocks and was the heart and soul of defense by senior season in 2012. Led team in 2012 with seven pass breakups and scored two defensive touchdowns.

5. CONNOR SHAW (2010): Recruited out of Flowery Branch, Ga., Gamecocks were Shaw’s primary SEC suitor. Left USC as winningest quarterback in school history (27 wins as starter).

THEY WERE TWO-STAR RECRUITS?

Top two-star gets under Spurrier:

1. Captain Munnerlyn (2006)

2. Patrick DiMarco (2007)

3. Justice Cunningham (2009)

4. Rokevious Watkins (2009)

5. Dylan Thompson (2010)

6. Byron Jerideau (2010)

TOP MISSES

Some of the top prospects who failed to live up to expectations.

1. KENRICK ELLIS (2006): A four-star prospect from Lake Worth, Fla., and one of the highest-rated prospects in the class, the defensive tackle left the team after his redshirt freshman season after multiple suspensions related to off-field issues. He played as a backup defensive end with theJets in 2013.

2. THE 2007 WIDE RECEIVERS CLASS: There was plenty of potential in the group that included receivers Chris Culliver, Dion Lecorn and Jason Barnes, as well as athletes Joe Hills and Mark Barnes. Not one made a lasting impact on offense, while Hills and Mark Barnes transferred.

3. QUINTIN RICHARDSON (2007): The Spring Valley offensive lineman was one of the top-rated recruits in the class but struggled to stay in the starting lineup as a redshirt sophomore. Made five career starts. After an injury, off-field issues and a suspension, Richardson opted to transfer.

4. JARVIS GILES (2009): Ranked the No. 3 all-purpose running back in the country, Giles never caught on as a Gamecock. He had 277 yards and one touchdown as a freshman but played sparingly late in the 2009 season and not much at all (two carries) with Marcus Lattimore’s emergence in 2010. He left USC, the first of several transfers.

5. RYAN DOERR (2008), NICK ST. GERMAIN (2012): USC rarely uses a scholarship to sign a kicker out of high school but did so on these two. Doerr never played for USC and transferred to Kansas State. St. Germain left the team this past season after walk-on Elliott Fry won the starting job.

MORE HITS, MISSES BY CLASS

A look at coach Steve Spurrier’s first nine classes:

2005

HITS: Carlos Thomas, Jared Cook, Ryan Succop, Kenny McKinley, Lemuel Jeanpierre

MISSES: Jonathan Hannah, O.J. Murdock, Bobby Wallace, Cade Thompson

2006

HITS: Jasper Brinkley, Eric Norwood, Captain Munnerlyn, Darian Stewart

MISSES: Kenrick Ellis, Clarence Bailey, Vandaral Shackleford

2007

HITS: Stephen Garcia, Travian Robertson, Cliff Matthews, Melvin Ingram, Patrick DiMarco

MISSES: Quintin Richardson, Jason Barnes, Mark Barnes, Joe Hills

2008

HITS: Devin Taylor, Antonio Allen, Akeem Auguste, Shaq Wilson, T.J. Johnson

MISSES: Eric Baker, D.L. Moore, Ryan Doerr, Aramis Hillary, Reid McCollum

2009

HITS: Alshon Jeffery, Stephon Gilmore, DeVonte Holloman, D.J. Swearinger, Rokevious Watkins, Justice Cunningham

MISSES: Jarvis Giles, Lamar Scruggs, Ben Axon, Nick Allison, Ronald Byrd

2010

HITS: Marcus Lattimore, Connor Shaw, Victor Hampton, Dylan Thompson, A.J. Cann, Ronald Patrick, Ace Sanders

MISSES: Qua Gilchrist, Corey Simmons, Tramell Williams, Brandon Golson

2011

HITS: Jadeveon Clowney, Kelcy Quarles, Damiere Byrd, Brandon Wilds, Brison Williams, Brandon Shell, Rory Anderson

MISSES: Tanner McEvoy, Sheldon Royster, Kaleb Broome, Martay Mattox, Angelo Watley

2012

HITS: Mike Davis, Shaq Roland, Kaiwan Lewis

MISSES: Nick St. Germain, Kendric Salley, Joe Harris

2013

HITS: Pharoh Cooper, Skai Moore

MISSES: J.P Vonashek, Ronnie Martin

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