USC COACH STEVE Spurrier faces one of the most important recruiting visits of his tenure with the Gamecocks this week.
Seldom has Spurrier had the chance to land the state's top prospect without competition from Clemson. On top of that, he has the chance to land one of the country's top offensive weapons, someone who could bolster his anemic running game.
On Saturday, Spurrier is scheduled to have his in home meeting with Byrnes running back Marcus Lattimore and his family. Spurrier will be the last coach to meet with Lattimore before the Rebels standout makes his announcement Tuesday night. Lattimore is deciding between the Gamecocks and Auburn.
Tigers coach Gene Chizik is scheduled to meet with Lattimore on Thursday.
Outside of Lattimore, no one really knows where things stand with him. He and his family cut off contact with the media last week, so it's anybody's guess if Spurrier will be trying to come from behind or protect a lead. There have been signs he favors the Gamecocks, but in his last public uttering on the subject last Monday, Lattimore said Auburn was a slight leader.
The Gamecocks could have the emotional edge with Lattimore based on the numerous visits he has made to the school the past few years. He has built strong relationships with his recruiters. But the Tigers can show him a more productive offense from last season, especially in the running game. So, the decision may come down to emotional appeal versus black and white statistics.
Lattimore was visited last week, first by Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and running backs coach Curtis Luper, and then later by USC recruiters Brad Lawing, Jay Grahan and Shawn Elliott. Lattimore did not go anywhere this past weekend after considering taking an unofficial visit to Auburn. His mother said last week he might take another unofficial visit to USC before deciding, but nothing has been scheduled.
The Lattimore visit won't be the only crucial recruiting visit for Spurrier this week. He's scheduled to sit down with Beaufort linebacker Justin Parker on Thursday. Parker made an official visit to LSU over the weekend. Today he's slated to meet with Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney will get the last in-person visit with Parker among the head coaches; he's scheduled to meet Parker on Saturday. Parker is expected to choose between the Tigers and USC. He has been favoring Clemson the past few weeks.
USC gained a commitment over the weekend from defensive end Corey Simmons (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) of Atlanta. Simmons made his official visit Thursday-Saturday and contacted recruiter Shane Beamer on Sunday with his pledge. Simmons is the son of former NFL star Clyde Simmons.
"I think it's a place he can get a good education," the elder Simmons said. "They have all the things in place to help him develop into the player he wants to be."
The younger Simmons was coached by former USC linebacker Kenneth Robinson.
"When he gets off the ball, he's pretty good," Robinson said. "He's bigger than his dad was coming out of high school, and he has a lot of room to grow. He runs well, has long arms and does a good job of getting his hands on you and getting leverage."
Simmons played in the Gwinnett County All Star Game. He is the 20th commitment for the Gamecocks.
Wide receiver Ace Sanders of Bradenton, Fla., made his official visit to USC over the weekend and did not commit. But the Gamecocks remain at the top of his list. Sanders also has visited South Florida and is scheduled to visit West Virginia this weekend.
Clemson used the weekend to try to steal commitments from Alabama and Auburn and grab a quarterback transfer. Alabama commitment defensive back Keenan Allen of Greensboro, N.C., made an official visit and will decide if he'll switch to the Tigers. Allen, who was a standout during Shrine Bowl week, committed to Alabama over Clemson and others in November.
Auburn-bound running back D.J. Howard of Lincoln, Ala., is giving Clemson a hard look because the Tigers are promising he would only play running back for them, something he's not convinced Auburn will do. Howard only wants to play running back in college. Swinney is expected to visit Howard this week.
And quarterback Zach Maynard (6-3, 195), who is Keenan Allen's half-brother, also visited Clemson because he's looking for a new school after deciding to leave Buffalo. Maynard was the starting quarterback last season under former coach Turner Gill. He would have two years to play two after sitting out next season if he transfers to an FBS program.
The Gamecocks will get a visit this weekend from defensive lineman Todd Chandler (6-1, 290) of Miami. He met with recruiter Jeep Hunter and changed his final visit from Florida States to USC. Chandler has visited Colorado, Louisville and Syracuse. At one time or another he has been committed to Miami and South Florida. He favors Louisville.
Defensive lineman J.C. Copeland of LaGrange, Ga., is scheduled for an official visit to USC this weekend. Copeland remains a Tennessee commitment. He was scheduled for a visit to South Florida over the weekend.
USC also is working defensive lineman Calvin Smith for a visit this weekend. The former Tennessee commitment was scheduled to visit Alabama over the weekend. He also has been to Tennessee, Illinois and Florida State.
Shrine Bowl tight end and defensive end Keegan Funderburk (6-4, 262) of Central is scheduled for an official visit to USC this weekend. He visited S.C. State over the weekend. According to Central coach Joey Mangum, Funderburk's situation hinges on his academics.
"There's a change he could qualify," Mangum said. "But we won't know until July. If he goes D-I, he'll go to South Carolina eventually."
If Funderburk doesn't qualify for USC, he could end up at Georgia Military JC, a prep school or S.C. State.
Clemson-bound athlete Victor Beasley of Adairsville, Ga., said last week he's firm with his commitment and won't take any more visits. He had been considering a visit to Auburn.
Clemson commitment defensive back Darius Robinson of Atlanta shut down his recruiting last week after considering a visit to Georgia Tech, and he said he's firm with the Tigers.
Offensive lineman Morgan Moses of Richmond met with Ohio State's Jim Tressel last week, and he was scheduled for a visit to Virginia over the weekend. USC offensive line coach Shawn Elliott has been in touch with Moses and may try to see him this week. Florida also is involved.
USC no longer is recruiting tight end Mychal Rivera of The College of the Canyons (Calif.) JC. He was scheduled for an official visit to Tennessee over the weekend.
Tight end Clive Walford of Belle Glade, Fla., who is a Miami commitment, is scheduled to visit USC this weekend.
Defensive back Sharrod Golightly of Decatur, Ga., who has been committed to Vanderbilt, is scheduled to visit USC this weekend.
USC commitment defensive back Chris Payne was scheduled to return to Fork Union (Va.) Prep on Sunday where he will resume his efforts to become qualified. Payne left the school for the holiday break and had to have some issues resolved before he could return.
Shrine Bowl linebacker Darius Lipford of Lenoir, N.C., remains a North Carolina commitment but said last week he's still evaluating Clemson and Duke and won't announce the final choice until Signing Day. Duke's David Cutcliffe and North Carolina's Butch Davis have been in for their visits, and Clemson's Swinney is expected to visit this week.
Greer offensive lineman Kenneth Ramey (6-0, 290) is visiting Brevard and Newberry. He also is getting interest from Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina.
Columbia linebacker Jordan Jacobs committed to Newberry and wide receiver Christian Reid committed to Mars Hill. Columbia fullback Shaq Hilton was scheduled for an official visit to Coastal Carolina over the weekend.
Chester offensive lineman R.J. Canty has a top three of East Carolina, North Carolina A&T and William and Mary. This weekend he plans to visit either Tennessee State or Morgan State.
Blythewood wide receiver Jeremy White has not been offered but is hearing from S.C. State, Grambling, North Carolina Central, North Carolina A&T, Gardner Webb and Edward Waters
Richland Northeast athlete Kersean Wilson is leaning towards attending Hargrave (Va.) Prep in the fall, with USC showing interest in recruiting him for 2011 as a receiver. He also is hearing from Virginia Tech and N.C. State.
Cheraw defensive end Jonathan White committed to North Greenville.
Byrnes wide receiver Torian Richardson took a recent visit to Cincinnati but remains committed to East Carolina.
Wide receiver Matt Porter (6-1, 185) of James Island made an official visit to Clemson over the weekend as a preferred walk-on candidate. He has offers from Newberry and Wingate.
James Island offensive lineman Chad Hamilton was scheduled to visit Ohio over the weekend. He also has been to Presbyterian and Coastal Carolina. He is interested in Youngstown State.
Furman added commitments last week from defensive lineman Tyreek Phillips (5-11, 292) of Avondale, Ga., defensive back Jacoby Browder (5-8, 180) of Prattville, Ala., and running back Hank McCloud (5-,8 180) of Tampa, Fla.
The Citadel has commitments from quarterback Del'Javon Simmons of Burke, defensive end Justin Oxendine of Sumter, wide receiver Austin Crowe of Boiling Springs and defensive lineman Derrick Bavol of Tampa.
Defensive lineman Derrius Hamlet of Fairfield Central committed to North Carolina A&T.
Michigan State last week offered junior defensive back Zeph Grimes (6-0, 200) and sophomore running back Demetrius Williams of Bamberg-Ehrhardt, according to coach Butch Crosby. Grimes also is hearing from USC, Clemson, Kentucky, Virginia Tech, Auburn, N.C. State, Georgia and Syracuse.