The consensus seems to agree: the state of South Carolina doesn’t possess as much top-flight talent in the Class of 2012 as it has in past years.
That’s not a surprise considering some of the surpremely talented players – Jadeveon Clowney, Da’Quan Bowers, Marcus Lattimore and Carlos Dunlap to name a few – who have hailed from the Palmetto State in the past five years. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean the Palmetto State will produce fewer Football Bowl Subdivision signees in February.
“This is probably a deeper class than we’ve had the last few years,” SCvarsity.com’s Jim Baxter said. “There certainly aren’t as many five-star players as we’ve had the past couple of years, but we’re deeper at some positions than we’ve been in a long time. I think you’ll see more kids sign out of this class. It’s just we don’t have all the five stars and four stars that we normally have.”
Baxter has spent the last several months analyzing South Carolina’s rising seniors to compile his list of the state’s top-50 prospects. He believes there are at least 25 potential FBS signees in the state.
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Just like other recruiting sites and analysts, Baxter ranks Lexington receiver and USC commitment Shaq Roland as the state’s top player. He lists Gaffney receiver Quinshad Davis second, followed by Bamberg-Ehrhardt defensive end Martin Aiken, Wando defensive lineman Gimel President and Dorman offensive lineman Patrick DeStefano.
“It’s unfair to compare Shaq to some of those [previous No. 1 players in the state],” Baxter said. “That’s simply because he hasn’t been allowed to develop at his natural position, which is wide receiver. His freshman year he played safety. His sophomore year played some quarterback and on defense as well. Last year was the first year he settled in at receiver and even then he took some snaps at quarterback and ran the ball some.
“In terms of what he could do at the next level, I think he’s as good as the last three No. 1s.”
Baxter believes the Upper State is stronger in terms of total talent this year than the Midlands and Lower State. He believes wide receiver is the state’s deepest position – he has 12 of them, including USC commitment Kwinton Smith, in his top 50 – but there is a glaring lack of quality quarterbacks.
“The quarterback class is as thin as it’s been in a long time,” Baxter said. “I really think we’ve got one kid who is going to be an [FBS] quarterback who could see playing time. That’s [Maryland commitment] Caleb Rowe from Blue Ridge.
“I think it’s one of those cycles. We’ve had a lot the last few years, especially last year. You’ve got some guys that have been waiting in the wings. I think you’ll see good classes in the junior and sophomore classes. The sophomore class is very strong for quarterbacks.”
When asked to pinpoint one of the state’s most underrated prospects, Baxter chose Fox Creek’s Marty Williams, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound athlete who will likely play safety in college. Williams is more talented than people give him credit for and the lack of respect is likely partially derived from the lack of quality competition he plays against, Baxter said.
SCVarsity.com has also released its list of the top-20 players in the Midlands. Columbia receiver Casey Gladney, who is committed to Alabama, is second behind Roland on that list. He ranked 13th in the state’s top 50.
“He’s a fantastic receiver,” Baxter said. “He has the potential to be the best receiver in the state of South Carolina, including Shaq Roland. I just don’t think Casey has realized how good he is. He has a lot of untapped potential. As far as ability, he’s as good as anybody out there.”
USC offensive line commitment Mason Zandi of Chapin is ranked 20th. Baxter said the talent in the Midlands is top heavy, with less than 10 likely to play collegiately in Division I.
|SCvarsity.com's South Carolina Class of 2012 top 50|
|1. Shaq Roland, WR, 6-1, 180, Lexington|
|2. Quinshad Davis, WR, 6-3, 189, Gaffney|
|3. Martin Aiken, DL, 6-3, 240, Bamberg-Erhardt|
|4. Gimel President, DE, 6-4, 242, Wando|
|5. Patrick DeStafano, OL, 6-5, 270, Dorman|
|6. Javarius Leamon, OL, 6-6, 260, Woodruff|
|7. Marty Williams, Ath, 6-1, 200, Fox Creek|
|8. Kwinton Smith, WR, 6-4, 195, Dillon|
|9. Ronnie Geohaghan, DB, 6-1, 189, Allendale-Fairfax|
|10. Devontre Parnell, DB, 5-10, 175, Fairfield-Central|
|11. T.J. Burrell, LB, 6-0, 190, Goose Creek|
|12. Shaq Lawson, DE, 6-2, 220, Daniel|
|13. Kendric Salley, RB, 5-11, 205, Williston-Elko|
|14. Casey Gladney, WR, 6-1, 180, Columbia|
|15. Jabril Solomon, DB, 6-2, 178, Hemingway|
|16. Oliver Jones, OL, 6-6, 284, Ninety-Six|
|17. Justin Meredith, , TE, 6-5, 217, T.L. Hanna|
|18. Cordrea Tankersley, WR, 6-2, 195, Silver Bluff|
|19. Savon Dukes, LB, 6-2, 207, Gaffney|
|20. Chris Brown, WR, 6-2, 179, Hanahan|
|21. Caleb Rowe, QB, 6-3, 180, Blue Ridge|
|22. Tyler Knox, DE, 6-4, 225, Myrtle Beach|
|23. David Deleon, DL, 6-0, 255, Bamberg-Erhardt|
|24. Rokeem Williams, WR, 6-2, 185, Williston-Elko|
|25. Mark Irick, WR, 6-4, 180, Calhoun County|
|26. Jay Jay McCollough, RB, 6-4, 225, Nation Ford|
|27. Tony Wright, CB, 6-0, 175, Chester|
|28. Rondreas Truesdale, RB, 5-9, 170, Indian Land|
|29. Bryton Griffin, WR, 6-2, 195, Blue Ridge|
|30. Jonathan McLaughlin, OL, 6-4, 265, Mauldin|
|31. Eddie Gordon, OL, 6-1, 300, Boiling Springs|
|32. Wesley Scott, OL, 6-3, 260, Ridgeland|
|33. Malik Ford, WR, 5-10, 185, Marlboro County|
|34. D.J. Goodman, RB, 5-11, 193, Greenwood|
|35. Kye Tyler, Ath, 6-2, 210, Columbia|
|36. Montez McGuire, WR, 6-2, 190, North Augusta|
|37. Dondre Brown, RB, 6-2, 215, Wade Hampton (H)|
|38. Preston Durham, LB, 6-1, 200, Chapman|
|39. B.J. Boyd, WR, 5-10, 170, Northwestern|
|40. Josh Brown, OL, 6-5, 290, South Aiken|
|41. Rivers Bedenbaugh, LB, 5-11, 190, Batesburg-Leesville|
|42. Tay Hicklin, Ath, 5-9, 175, South Pointe|
|43. Torray Amlett, RB, 6-2, 210, Ridgeland|
|44. Ethan Long, QB, 6-3, 218, Fort Dorchester|
|45. Reese Hannon, QB, 6-3, 190, Greer|
|46. Raleigh Yeldell, Ath, 5-11, 175, Strom Thurmond|
|47. Ryan Raley, OL, 6-3, 310, Fairfield-Central|
|48. Josh Rowland, WR, 6-0, 160, Greer|
|49. Jordan Cherry, OL, 6-5, 250, Darlington|
|50. Kevin Miller, RB, 5-8, 165, Lexington|