The instant gratification provided by South Carolina’s massive Class of 2011 recruiting haul may one day be outweighed by the missed potential in subsequent classes.
The Gamecocks signed a bevy of players in February, severely limiting the amount of scholarships available to the coaching staff in the Class of 2012. Recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier Jr. said this spring that USC was projecting only 14 vacant scholarships in the upcoming class.
That has forced the Gamecocks to be more cautious when making offers and ultimately taking commitments. Some prospects who may become great college players could be left without offers to play at USC.
Dillon wide receiver Kwinton Smith, one of the state’s top prospects, may one day fall into that group. He’s being targeted by some of the elite programs in the SEC, but the Gamecocks have yet to make an offer.
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Smith has offers from Auburn, Florida, LSU, Notre Dame, Clemson, Virginia Tech, North Carolina and N.C. State among others. He’s visiting Auburn, Alabama and LSU this weekend.
“I guess they’ve got plenty of Alshon Jefferys and those types of people right now,” Dillon coach Jackie Hayes said. “That’s the only reason that I would think [USC hasn’t offered]. It is a little questionable when Auburn comes by to offer and Florida. I’m sure he’ll probably get an offer when he goes to Alabama this weekend.
“They just tell me they have a lot of receivers right now.”
Hayes believes USC’s coaching staff would like another look at Smith, though he may or may not attend camp in Columbia this summer. Smith’s recruitment is “wide open” right now, so Hayes doesn’t believe the Gamecocks have hurt their chances of landing him if they come in with a later offer.
A litany of college coaches have liked what they’ve already seen from the two-sport standout. Smith burst onto the scene last fall, catching 42 passes for 809 yards (19.3 per catch) and 15 touchdowns for the Class AA state finalists.
After coming out for football late in 2009, Smith spent the bulk of that season leading the junior varsity team at quarterback. However, he was moved to receiver in his fulltime varsity debut last fall, and that move paid big dividends for the Wildcats.
“He’s got all the tools to be a good one,” Hayes said. “Six-5. 205 pounds. Runs 4.5 in the 40. Great hands. Loves to play the game. He’s the kind you dream about.”
Smith became Dillon’s go-to receiver from day one last fall. Playing split end, where he was able to best utilize his size and athleticism, Smith dominated against much smaller defensive backs.
“He’s got a big body and he knows how to control it,” Hayes said. “He’s a hard guy to cover, because he catches the ball well in space and also when somebody is all over him.”
Smith is another dual-sport athlete from the Pee Dee, following in the footsteps of USC football/baseball signee Shon Carson, who is from Lake City. Smith plays center field and pitches for Dillon’s baseball team.
A rangy fielder able to hit 90-plus on the radar gun, he’s got the tools to become a special player in that sport, too. He hit better than .400 for the Wildcats this spring, earning all-state honors. Virginia Tech has offered in both sports, and Florida may end up following suit. Ultimately, his future is likely in football, however.
“If he works hard, he can be in the NFL,” Hayes said. “He’s a really good kid, too. That makes it that much sweeter.”