THE CLEMSON AND USC football staffs had a busy Saturday with their first major junior day of the 2011 recruiting campaign.
The Tigers had about 65 prospects on campus, the Gamecocks about 150.
Many of these juniors were invited guests of the schools and will be primary targets through the spring and summer. No one committed publicly, but both programs improved their positions with several players they like.
Marlboro County linebacker Lateek Townsend was one of those with Clemson. He stopped in Columbia early Saturday for a photo shoot then headed up to Tigertown, where he spent the rest of the afternoon.
Never miss a local story.
"Clemson is No. 1 ... there is no No. 2 or No. 3," Townsend said.
On Sunday afternoon, Townsend apparently said something at a banquet in Columbia that led to reports he has officially committed to Clemson.
Townsend has given every indication in recent weeks Clemson is where he is headed. But he explained in a series of text messages Sunday afternoon he does not yet consider himself committed to the Tigers.
"I didn't yet. Rumors," Townsend wrote. "They (Clemson Web sites) say that's what onlookers say. But I'll commit when I'm ready, not when some media says it. They can say anything. When I am ready I will commit. Not ready right now."
Townsend has picked up offers from Tennessee, North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, LSU, Miami and Alabama. He also has offers from Clemson, USC, Illinois, NC State, Maryland, East Carolina and Texas A&M. He plans to see other schools but is not sure where else he will visit.
The Tigers are in good shape with defensive lineman Jerome Maybank of Waccamaw after his visit. He also wants to see USC and North Carolina.
Mauldin offensive lineman Ryan Norton is favoring Clemson after visiting Saturday. He also likes Georgia Tech, Illinois and USC.
Defensive end Clay Burton of Venice, Fla., also gives Clemson high marks after visiting Saturday. He has been to Clemson several times and has the Tigers at the top of his list. Notre Dame offered him, and he plans to visit there.
USC remains in strong shape with the Big Four prospects from Rock Hill after their visits Saturday. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and defensive end Gerald Dixon of South Pointe, and defensive lineman Gerald Dixon Jr. and defensive lineman Roderick Byers of Northwestern all have the Gamecocks at or near the top of their lists.
Clowney has 25 offers, including USC, Clemson, Florida, Alabama, LSU, Notre Dame, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, UCLA, Miami and Tennessee.
The Dixon brothers are sons of former USC and NFL linebacker Gerald Dixon, who is an assistant coach at Rock Hill High. Both have been offered by the Gamecocks. They are both favoring USC.
Dixon of South Pointe also has offers from North Carolina, Michigan and Michigan State. "He's got football in his blood," South Pointe coach Bobby Carroll said of his Dixon. "Friday nights, when they cut the lights on, he gets after it."
Northwestern's Dixon is the oldest of the brothers by about six months. He has been offered by the Gamecocks and says they lead.
"They've been coming at me hard," he said. "They are ahead of everybody."
He is also getting interest from Duke, North Carolina and NC State. Dixon said he and his brother want to go to the same school and indicated that likely will be USC when all is said and done.
USC is Byers' lone offer. He is getting interest from Virginia and Duke but is firmly favoring the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks offered and moved to the front with Blythewood running back Brandon Wilds while he was on campus. He is also looking at North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Maryland.
The Gamecocks lead for running back Dominique Cooper of Darlington. He was in Saturday and was previously offered by USC. He also holds an offer from S.C. State.
Athlete Danny Webster of Havelock, N.C., is an outstanding option quarterback. Georgia Tech has offered him to run its offense. USC and Clemson also like Webster as an athlete. USC has offered, and he was at the Gamecocks' junior day. Webster also has offers from North Carolina, N.C. State and East Carolina.
Defensive back Justin Coleman of Brunswick, Ga., was at Clemson's junior day. Coleman has offers from Kentucky, West Virginia and Oklahoma State and is hearing from Clemson, USC, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Oklahoma.
Athlete Demarius Dawson, also of Brunswick, is garnering attention from Clemson, Georgia, Iowa, Tennessee, Arkansas, and West Virginia. Dawson is also showing interest in Clemson and has camped there before.
Lake City running back Shon Carson not only is one of the state's top football prospects, he is one of its best baseball players. Carson was to be at USC early in Saturday morning to meet with Gamecock football and baseball coaches and representatives of the U.S. Army All-American Game. After finishing in Columbia, he was to go to Clemson to take in the rest of the Tigers' junior day. USC and Clemson have offered Carson in both sports. He also has offers from North Carolina, East Carolina, Florida State, Tennessee, Alabama and Southern Cal. He wants to visit Alabama and North Carolina in the coming weeks. In baseball, Carson plays shortstop and pitches but will be an outfielder at the next level.
Spartanburg High's offensive lineman Stephen Grommer and defensive end Tre' Kelly-Rice were at USC.
Grommer is getting interest from Duke, Vanderbilt, Northwestern and UCLA.
Kelly-Rice is getting interest from Illinois, Wisconsin and N.C. State.
Spartan High defensive back Ronnie Martin is one of the state's fastest players according to his coach. He plays corner and returns kicks. He was at Alabama and will go to North Carolina on Feb. 27. He plans to go to Miami for a spring practice. USC is showing interest.
Goose Creek offensive lineman Brandon Shell could not attend either junior day Saturday due to a basketball playoff game. He has picked up three more offers: Illinois, Kentucky and Rutgers. Other offers are Clemson, USC, Southern Cal, Michigan, Tennessee, Florida, Miami, LSU, Alabama and Oregon.
Offensive lineman Bobby Hart of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has 25 offers including one from USC and would have the Gamecocks in his top 10 if he had one. Hart said the only other schools definitely in his still-to-be-determined top 10 are Alabama and Florida State. They have offered along with Tennessee, North Carolina, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt and others. Hart went to Florida State for a junior day.
Defensive end Ray Drew of Thomasville, Ga., thought about coming to USC's junior day but went to Florida State instead. Drew has offers from USC, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, FSU, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and N.C. State among many others. He has also been to Georgia and Georgia Tech. He plans to visit USC and Clemson, but has not set dates.
Quarterback Martay Mattox of Athens, Ga., was at USC for junior day and was excited to meet Steve Spurrier. "It was an honor to be offered by him," he said earlier in the week.
Mattox was at Georgia Tech on Friday and is looking for an offer from the Yellow Jackets. Mattox has offers from USC and South Florida. Mattox is also hearing from Clemson, Georgia, FSU, Ole Miss, Michigan, and Northwestern.
Offensive lineman Angelo Mangiro of Roxbury, N.J., has offers from Rutgers, Maryland, Boston College, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia, Pitt, Ohio State, Florida, Connecticut and Temple. USC and Clemson are showing interest.
Mangiro said he will not go to any junior days, but he will make visits this spring and summer. He will go to Ohio State during his spring break. Later in the spring he plans to visit Rutgers, Tennessee, Boston College, Maryland and Virginia. When he vacations in Myrtle Beach this summer, Mangiro plans to visit USC, Clemson, North Carolina and N.C. State.
Defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan of Asheville, N.C., has offers from Clemson, USC, North Carolina, N.C. State, Georgia, Duke, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Florida, LSU, Maryland, and Virginia Tech and is hearing from Miami, FSU and Texas Tech to name a few. Pagan has visited Clemson as well North Carolina, N.C. State, Georgia, and Georgia Tech and wants to visit USC, Virginia Tech, LSU, and Florida.
Quarterback Christian LeMay of Matthews, N.C., named 10 schools from his long offer list as his favorites: Clemson, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Florida State, Mississippi State, Virginia Tech, Miami, Oklahoma and North Carolina.
But schools are continuing to make offers. USC, Notre Dame and Arizona State just offered, according to LeMay's father, and Southern Cal is also now showing interest. LeMay attended Clemson's junior day in January, the day of the Duke basketball game. He also visited several schools last spring.
His father said LeMay will visit some area schools for spring practice. LeMay is planning to graduate in December. LeMay is a pro-style quarterback who operates from under center.
Oregon and East Carolina are the two newest offers for Calhoun County quarterback Shamier Jeffery. He also has offers from USC, Tennessee, Auburn, Kentucky, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Kansas State and Illinois. Jeffery was at USC's junior day. This weekend he possibly will visit Louisville and Kentucky. He is planning to get to Auburn and Georgia Tech. And he plans to be at Clemson on March 7 and 8. He will be on hand for the Tigers' first spring practice.
USC has joined Florida State as offers for offensive lineman Max Lang of Orlando. He is also getting interest from South Florida and Duke. Lang was at Florida State Saturday for a junior day.
Running back Jalen Simmons of Charlotte has an offer from Duke but is also hearing from Clemson, USC, North Carolina, and N.C. State. Simmons was at Duke for a junior day Saturday. He says he would also like to attend junior days and/or take unofficial visits to Clemson, USC, North Carolina, and N.C. State.
Linebacker Chris Gary of Spartanburg signed with Tusculum. He is the seventh Viking to sign.
Basketball. Kendall Williams of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., wrapped his official visit to Clemson on Sunday. "This trip made my decision harder, he said. "I don't know what I'm going to do." Williams is deciding between Clemson and New Mexico. He has two more official visits available but has nothing scheduled and is not sure he will take another visit.
"J.L. Mann junior Damien Leonard was in attendance Saturday for Clemson's victory against Virginia. Leonard has made several unofficial visits to Clemson for games during the season. He has the Tigers among his favorites along with Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State, Kentucky, Texas, Wake Forest, Kansas, Connecticut and Indiana.