THE HOLIDAY DEAD period for football recruiting has arrived, with USC and Clemson down to their final prospects.
Both are sitting on 20 commitments for the 2010 class. The Gamecocks plan to max out at 25, while the Tigers are looking at between 23 and 25.
The Tigers had a net gain of zero last week as they added a commitment from defensive lineman Tra Thomas of Wadesboro, N.C., but lost a commitment from offensive lineman Laurence Gibson of Hargrave (Va.) Prep.
Thomas committed while at Shrine Bowl practice. He gives the Tigers two defensive tackles for the class. Gibson committed to the Tigers the weekend before last while on his official visit, but early last week he backed off that and later committed to Virginia Tech.
The Gamecocks reached the 20 mark by signing linebacker Qua Gilchrist (6-foot-2, 230 pounds) of Butler (Kan.) JC. Gilchrist had been committed to Houston, but quickly took the USC offer last week. Gilchrist also had offers from Kansas State, Kansas, Toledo and Northern Illinois. Playing running back at Abbeville High, Gilchrist earned a spot in the 2007 SCADA North-South Game. He committed to Newberry in January 2008 but later signed with Butler. He redshirted in 2008 and this season had 54 tackles and 5.5 sacks as an outside linebacker. He will have three years to play three.
Neither school had official visits over the weekend. The Gamecocks had planned to bring in defensive back Kenny Ladler of Stone Mountain, Ga., but after getting word from Vanderbilt that he can enroll in January, he decided to stick with his commitment to the Commodores.
With Ladler off the board, the Gamecocks will press the issue with defensive back Sharrod Golightly of Decatur, Ga. Golightly also has been committed to Vanderbilt but has scheduled an official visit with USC for Jan. 15.
Offensive lineman Max Garcia of Norcross, Ga., committed Sunday to Maryland over Clemson and Vanderbilt. Garcia plans to major in journalism, and the fact he can study that at Maryland and not at the other schools was a major factor.
Coach Steve Spurrier led a USC contingent to meet last Thursday night in the Philadelphia home of defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd. Assistants G.A. Mangus and Brad Lawing were with Spurrier. Washington High coach Ron Cohen and assistant coach Andre Odom sat in as well. Floyd took an official visit to North Carolina over the weekend, and he will make an official visit to USC on Jan. 15 despite the fact he plans to make an announcement at the U.S. Army All-American Game on Jan. 9. He plans to visit USC even if he does not announce then for the Gamecocks. Florida coach Urban Meyer also met with Floyd last Thursday. Floyd has taken official visits to Florida, Southern Cal and Ohio State.
USC recruiters Shane Beamer made an in-home visit with committed offensive lineman Eric Mack. Auburn coaches were at his school earlier that day, while Florida coaches were in earlier in the week. Mack has maintained his commitment to the Gamecocks, though he was not happy with the departure of offensive line coach Eric Wolford for Youngstown State. Mack is scheduled for his official visit to USC on Jan. 15. He also plans to visit Florida on Jan. 22.
Offensive lineman Trammell Williams of Jacksonville, Fla., has been committed to USC since the summer, and he is holding that pledge despite the departure of Wolford.
"As of right now, I'm with South Carolina, no doubt. I don't really pay attention to the other schools. South Carolina has been there from the get go." Williams said.
Gamecock recruiter Steve Spurrier Jr. has visited him three times, and he talked to head coach Spurrier last week. "He said he had over 48 contacts from other offensive line coaches," Williams said. "He said he's not going to rush into hiring a new coach."
Despite the strong words for USC, Williams said he is thinking of setting official visits with Ole Miss and Florida State. Florida State recruiters have been in to see him. He is scheduled for his official visit to USC Jan. 15.
Wolford's departure did hurt the Gamecocks with offensive lineman Morgan Moses of Fork Union (Va.) Prep. He dropped the Gamecocks and plans to choose either Virginia, Florida or Ohio State.
Clemson commitment defensive back Darius Robinson of Atlanta said his commitment to the Tigers is absolute and he is not considering Auburn or Georgia Tech despite media reports that he was.
"It really wasn't what was said," Robinson said. "My words got twisted. I'm just going to stop talking to non-Clemson reporters. I don't have any involvement with anyone else." Robinson will take his official visit to Clemson on Jan. 8 and he has no other visits planned.
Athlete Lucky Radley of Woodland Hills, Calif., is still planning to visit USC. He visited North Carolina in November and Michigan earlier this month and has set a date to visit Utah on Jan. 15. He is planning for USC and Tennessee to be his final two visits. Radley says he does not have any favorites. Coaches from Michigan, Southern Cal, UCLA, Utah, Nevada, and Kansas have visited, and he continues to hear from USC's coaching staff.
Defensive end Tavaris Barnes of Jacksonville, Fla., will visit Clemson, Florida State and North Carolina in January. He has visited USC. Barnes, who is an FSU commit, says he will not know for sure which school he will choose until signing day. Barnes says he is waiting to see what happens with FSU, but is still committed. Barnes will visit Clemson on Jan. 8, UNC on Jan. 15, and has yet to schedule his FSU visit.
Athlete Jeremy Deering of Tampa, Fla., has set an official visit with USC for Jan. 15. Deering has taken official visits to Purdue and Illinois. He has also been talking to Rutgers about a visit.
Newberry College signed wide receiver Markish Jones (6-1, 202), the former Broome High standout who signed with Clemson in 2007. Jones played this season at El Camino JC in California. He will have two years to play at Newberry.
USC has offered tight end Mychal Rivera (6-4, 240), a Los Angeles native who attends the College of the Canyons JC in Santa Clarita, Calif. Rivera was recruited by USC tight ends coach Jeep Hunter when he was at Georgia Tech, but he signed with Oregon. After one season with the Ducks, Rivera transferred to the junior college. Rivera plans to set visits in January with USC, Utah State, Kansas State, Cal and Syracuse.
Linebacker Justin Parker of Beaufort has Clemson and USC tied at the top of his list.
"If one thing had to separate them it would have to be the education," Parker said. "My education comes first. South Carolina has a great business school and that's what I want to go to school for. So, that's one thing that would separate them from Clemson."
Parker has taken his official visit to USC and will visit Clemson on Jan. 8.
"I want to see a little bit more of their facilities and how things go," Parker said. Both schools are trying to sell Parker on the idea that there is a place waiting for him in their defense.
"If I go to South Carolina, they are going to play me where Eric Norwood played, and that's all around, move me around from here to here," he said. "Same thing with Clemson. They want to move me around and use my ability."
Parker plans to visit LSU on Jan. 15 and Georgia Tech on the 30th. He plans to announce on signing day.
Defensive lineman Ego Ferguson Jr. of Hargrave Prep is still considering USC for his final visit, according to his father. Ferguson is looking at USC, Miami and UCLA for that final visit. He has visited Oklahoma, Notre Dame, LSU and Cal.
Quarterback Hutson Mason of Marietta, Ga., made an unofficial visit to Clemson for a quick look at the Tigers. Clemson is not going to figure into his final decision, which he will announce Tuesday. He will go with either Georgia or Mississippi State.
Wide receiver Kadron Boone of Ocala, Fla., has been committed to Texas Tech for some time, but he continues to listen. Boone says several schools continue to contact him, including USC, Georgia, Florida, Miami, West Virginia, South Florida, Notre Dame, Louisville, and Cincinnati. He says West Virginia, South Florida, and Miami have sent coaches to visit him recently. He is unsure whether he will take any other visits.
Manning defensive back John Fulton will announce his college decision Jan. 2 during the Under Armour All-American Game, and he said he has a pretty good idea about where he's going.
"You can kind of say that, but you never know," Fulton said.
USC, Alabama and Florida are the final three. The Gators appeared out of it until their recent in-home visit. "They talked about the depth chart and everything like that and Joe Haden leaving. It started to make a lot of sense. A lot of things clicked there."
Fulton says Alabama coach Nick Saban also had an impressive in-home visit with him and his mother.
"My mom loves him, you know," he said. "It was kind of an honor for them to come right after their big win (in the SEC title game)."
USC also has been in the home, and Fulton has strong feelings for the Gamecocks.
"I love all South Carolina coaches," he said. "I've been close to them since as far as I can remember. I've always loved South Carolina since I was a little boy, and my dad has always loved South Carolina."
Fulton's father is due home from Afghanistan on Dec. 28, and he plans to sit down with him and discuss his options.
Athlete Darius Lipford of Lenoir, N.C., is committed to North Carolina but says he will take an official to Clemson on Jan. 8.
"It's a really good program (Clemson)," he said. "I just want to make sure I am making the right decision." Lipford, a former Duke commit, says it is unlikely he would change his mind and is strong on the Tar Heels. "I really want to stay in-state," said Lipford. He will visit UNC the week after his Clemson visit.
Athlete Victor Hampton of Darlington has USC out front. "Right now, I would have to say USC is my leader," said Hampton who plans to announce his decision during the U.S. Army All-American Game on Jan. 9. He has also been considering Tennessee and Auburn.
Running back D.J. Howard (5-11, 193 pounds) of Lincoln, Ala., has set official visits with Clemson for Jan. 8 and Auburn on the 15th. He has also been looking at Kentucky. Howard, who has been committed to Auburn, has concerns about Auburn's intentions for him because they have recruited him as an athlete and he wants to play running back. Clemson is recruiting him strictly as a running back.
Tight end Clive Walford (6-6, 222) of Belle Glade, Fla., has been committed to Miami but is interested enough in USC that he plans to set an official visit with the Gamecocks for January.
"I'm a huge fan of Steve Spurrier," Walford said. He is still committed to Miami, and USC is the only other school he is considering. He was visited recently by USC recruiters G.A. Mangus and Jeep Hunter.
Defensive end Brandon Willis of Byrnes made an official visit to Miami over the weekend and plans to announce a decision at the Army All-American Game. Willis has been a soft commitment to Tennessee. A source last week said he expected Willis to switch to Miami, but Willis told Volquest.com Sunday he felt Miami had too many defensive linemen for him to go there. He said he will choose between Tennessee and North Carolina. Willis will be a mid-year enrollee wherever he goes.
Shrine Bowl offensive lineman Chad Hamilton (6-3, 285) of James Island has been offered by The Citadel, Tennessee, State, Presbyterian and Coastal Carolina. He is also getting interest from Wake Forest. Hamilton was the 4A Lower State Offensive Lineman of the Year.
North-South defensive end Jonathan White (6-2, 235) of Cheraw has been offered by Coastal Carolina and North Greenville. He is also getting interest from Liberty, Newberry, Mars Hill and Wingate.
Shrine Bowl offensive lineman C.J. Wilson (6-5, 270) of Richland Northeast has set official visits to North Carolina A&T for Jan. 15, S.C. State on the 22nd and N.C. Central on Jan. 29th. Each has offered along with Tennessee State and East Carolina.