USC recruiting class: Impact players, steals, sleepers

02/07/2013 1:44 PM

02/07/2013 10:06 PM

South Carolina’s 2013 signing class ranks among the nation’s top 25, something that’s happened every year under Steve Spurrier. The group ranks No. 16 by Rivals, No. 17 by ESPN, No. 20 by 247Sports and No. 21 by Scout. As a whole, USC ranks No. 21 in the 247Sports Composite, which factors in four networks.

IMMEDIATE HELP

South Carolina needs help at linebacker, and one or more of Wednesday’s signees could see the field this season. Larenz Bryant, a consensus four-star prospect out of Charlotte, is regarded as an instinctual player and a solid tackler. At 215 pounds, he needs to gain weight.

David Johnson of Lithonia, Ga., is an SEC-sized player at 6-foot-1, 268 pounds. He played defensive end in high school but is on track to play linebacker for the Gamecocks. Johnson is a high-motor guy who has set a goal of starting this year.

Junior college cornerback Ronnie Martin, originally a signee from Spartanburg High, is on campus and will compete for playing time starting in spring practice. Two seasons at Georgia Military College can be a mental advantage for Martin as he transitions.

David Williams of Philadelphia is a four-star tailback noted for his size (6-1, 200), vision and balance.

STEALS

Georgia’s loss was South Carolina’s gain. Hoschton, Ga., defensive tackle Kelsey Griffin, rated the top player in USC’s class, originally picked his home-state Bulldogs.

Connor Mitch said no to Alabama and LSU when he picked the Gamecocks. The nation’s No. 14 pro-style quarterback (per 247Sports) is in school early and will debut this spring.

South Carolina fought a late charge from the home-state Terrapins to secure Na’Ty Rodgers of Pomfret, Md. He had a strong senior year, played in the Under Armour game and finished No. 181 in the Rivals250 rankings.

Noted for his tenacity and motor on the field — and his positive attitude off it — signee Devin Washington of Orlando, Fla., had more than 30 scholarship offers.

SLEEPERS

Pharoh Cooper turned a productive, versatile and successful season into a fourth star from Rivals. A state champion at Havelock High in North Carolina and Shrine Bowl MVP, the future defensive back has a goal to play right away as a punt returner.

Mohamed Camara wasn’t heavily recruited in the suburbs of Atlanta. Regarded as strong and physical, he is athletic enough to go after the quarterback or drop into coverage. The Gamecocks have him pegged as a safety.

Though he had a highly productive year (2,000 all-purpose yards, 25 scores), Jamari Smith of Jacksonville, Fla., lacked the publicity of fellow signee Williams. That’s partly because of all the higher-profile tailbacks in the Sunshine State. Smith is strong, quick and dedicated.

PROJECTS

J.P. Vonashek of Kingsland, Ga., is big (6-6, 283), but missed most of his senior year recovering from a shoulder injury.

Kendal Vickers of Havelock, N.C., who doesn’t count in this year’s class, was a USC commitment but figures to head to prep school this summer. He played mostly on the offensive line in high school. Appalachian State offered him as a tight end. At 6-3, 225, he could grow into as a defensive end or linebacker.

MISSES

USC had a pair of high-profile decommitments, with Virginia linebacker Matt Rolin flipping to Florida and Brendan Langley changing his pledge to Georgia.

Keith Bryant on Wednesday chose Florida State, saying he’s been decided on the Seminoles for quite some time.

BY POSITION

Quarterbacks: 1; Running backs: 2; Wide receivers: 0; Offensive linemen: 5; Tight ends: 0; Defensive ends: 3; Defensive tackles: 1; Linebackers: 4; Cornerbacks: 3; Safeties: 2; Kicker: 0

BY STATE

Georgia: 6; South Carolina: 4; Florida 4; North Carolina: 4; Maryland: 1; Pennsylvania: 1; Alabama 1.

 

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