It doesn’t appear that Major League Baseball will steal two football recruits from South Carolina’s Class of 2011 signing haul.
That may or may not be good news for the Gamecocks.
Lake City standout Shon Carson, a talented tailback, middle infielder and outfielder, was selected in the 44th round of the Major League Baseball Draft Wednesday by the Cincinnati Reds. Trinity Christian Academy (Fla.) standout Ahmad Christian, who also doubles as a middle infielder and outfielder but plays corner in football, was taken shortly thereafter in the 46th round by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Both signed with USC in February. They had heard varying reports of their potential draft status, with some scouts claiming it was possible for them to come off the board in the top-15 rounds. However, their talent on the diamond was likely overshadowed by their talents in football and their desire to attend school when it came time for MLB teams to make draft decisions.
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Both Carson and Christian had maintained for months that they fully intended on going to USC.
“I think his love of football came through,” Lake City coach Matt Apicella said of Carson. “Not committing to giving up football completely definitely had an effect on the draft. He said what he wanted, and he stuck with it. It hurt his draft status, but he’s going to a great school with an opportunity to play for two great coaches.”
Trinity Christian coach Mark Gattis said that Christian’s intentions to attend USC hurt his status as well.
Though it’s possible that the Reds or Brewers could throw out an attractive signing bonus toward either of them, it’s unlikely it would be enough for them to justify skipping out on the free educations they’ll get in Columbia. As football signees, they are guaranteed – unlike college baseball players – to receive full scholarships. They will be considered walk-ons for Ray Tanner’s baseball program.
Both players, according to their prep baseball coaches, are making plans to enroll in summer school, which would put to rest any speculation about their futures until at least the 2014 MLB Draft. That’s good news for Steve Spurrier and Co., who could use depth in the secondary and also in the backfield behind Marcus Lattimore.
The situation is kind of a Catch-22 for USC, however. The Gamecocks must figure out how to massage their scholarship numbers after signing 32 players in February. Four of them counted back to the previous year, but that still leaves 28 signees and only 25 of them can go on scholarship for the 2011-12 school year.
If Carson or Christian had been drafted high enough to warrant skipping school, it would have potentially helped alleviate some of the problem. However, that’s not going to happen, leaving the Gamecocks with some decisions to make – if every signee qualifies –this summer.
On the field, Carson is a compact, powerful runner with good vision. Though he doesn’t have much experience playing in the zone scheme that USC employs, many analysts believe he will adapt quickly and make an impact, perhaps even in 2011, for the Gamecocks.
Christian is a 5-foot-10, 190-pounder who played safety, corner and tailback in high school. He was rated as only a three-star prospect, but some believe he has much greater potential that has been gone untapped due to his commitment to playing baseball all summer.
Both Carson and Christian project as either middle infielders or outfielders in college. They are both rangy players, whether they are fielding grounders deep in the hole at shortstop or running down fly balls in the outfield gaps.