South Carolina's first commitment for 2014 comes from a familiar town for producing talent for the Gamecocks.
Joe Blue is a linebacker and running back for Dillon High. He committed to South Carolina on Jan. 19, almost one year to the date that he received an offer from the Gamecocks, his first offer. He chose USC over offers from Florida, Virginia Tech and others.
He made his pledge while at the USC-Vanderbilt basketball game, during the big recruiting weekend for the Class of 2013 commitments.
Blue had 17 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown to go with two tackles in Dillon's state title win in 2012. He is currently 5-foot-11 inches tall and weighs 245 pounds. He wants to be 230 when his senior season starts.
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He follows in the footsteps of Dillon players heading to USC in recent years, including wide receiver Kwinton Smith and offensive linemen D.J. Park and Bryce King.
Blue could play fullback or linebacker for the Gamecocks.
Why South Carolina?
It was my first love, my first offer. It's a great school that's on the rise, back-to-back seasons with 11 wins. I had to go there. It's a good location and the best conference in the world. I couldn't turn that down. Great coaches and legendary coaches with Steve Spurrier. I like to be in that position.
Talk about being the first guy in the 2014 class.
It feels great. I was trying to recruit some of the other guys such as KC [Crosby] to get there. It's a great feeling. If you know you want to go to that place and you're all into it, it feels great.
Why commit early?
I looked at the roster. I knew I had a chance to play at South Carolina.
How is your relationship with your recruiter, Shawn Elliott?
I've got a good relationship with Coach Elliott. He's a cool guy. When you go down there, you may not be feeling your best but Coach Elliott will put a smile on your face.
You get to continue the Dillon-to-Columbia tradition. Talk about that.
It feels good. The tradition is still there with DJ, Kwinton and Bryce. It feels reat to be able to be in college with someone I know.
What makes you a good linebacker?
I have a good eye for the ball. I don't get faked out for small reasons. I have a knack for the ball. It's my will.
What about fullback?
I like to use my power over other guys, running them over and everything. I get a thrill out of that.
Talk about your time in Columbia OTHER than visiting USC - winning state championships.
Even though we won last year, I still feel like we didn't win. I still want more. My senior year, I want go to out with a W. I don't want to go out with a loss. Anything could happen, but we work hard every day to get back to the promised land.
Why wear a camo hat DURING practice?
I'm not a country boy. I just like wearing it, just a little bit of swag. I don't try to be different. Just trying to keep the sun out of my eyes.
And what about doing handstands during practice?
Yeah I do that for show. I tell the other big boys that they can't do it.
Plans for the summer?
I'm going to take a lot of visits. Florida, LSU, Virginia Tech.
How solid is your commitment to the Gamecocks?
I'm just taking visits. I'm solid.
What are your goals for your senior season?
The only goal is winning. Anything less than winning is a failure. Anything less than getting a ring is a failure. I can care less about scoring a touchdown. I can care less about making a tackle. The main thing is winning.