Final recruiting push will include decisions, drama for Gamecocks

Experts say all exposure is good at decision time

01/26/2014 9:36 PM

01/27/2014 9:05 PM

South Carolina is in position to land several last-minute commitments for the Class of 2014, a finishing flurry for National Signing Day not seen since the 2011 recruiting close that included Jadeveon Clowney.

Five prospects with decisions to make have the Gamecocks in their final group, with four of those announcements expected to come on Feb. 5’s National Signing Day. Being in these recruiting battles is a win for USC, said Rivals’ Southeast recruiting analyst Woody Wommack.

“Even if you’re not going to get a guy, you want to be in that final discussion,” Wommack said. “It’s good for publicity on signing day for South Carolina to have hats on the table.”

Four-star running back Derrell Scott of Havelock, N.C., starts things off Monday with a 3:15 p.m. announcement. Scott has been the Gamecocks’ primary tailback target for this class and comes from the same school that produced current Gamecocks Corey Robinson and Pharoh Cooper.

That Havelock connection has been key for USC, said national recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton.

“It’s not a surprise that South Carolina has been in on Derrell Scott the whole way,” Hamilton said. “They were once thought to be the leader, but I think things are trending to the Vols now.”

A year after closing with linebackers Skai Moore and Jonathan Walton on signing day, USC on Feb. 5 will be in the running for two cornerbacks, an offensive tackle and a defensive tackle.

Like with linebackers last year, coaches have sold the chance of immediate playing time this recruiting cycle to cornerbacks. The Gamecocks lost all of their experienced corners Jimmy Legree (senior/NFL), Victor Hampton (NFL) and Ahmad Christian (transfer).

Landing targets Wesley Green of Lithonia, Ga., and Chris Lammons of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., would do more than fill a need, Hamilton said.

“It would be huge to close with a corner from Atlanta who picks South Carolina over Georgia and a corner from south Florida who is a former Florida commitment,” Hamilton said. “It would be huge because of who you beat, the areas they come from, and they fill the biggest need left on the board.”

The highest-rated prospect considering USC is five-star offensive tackle Damian Prince of Forestville, Md. Hamilton’s hunch is that Prince’s choice will come down to Florida or South Carolina, with Maryland a possibility to pull an upset when Prince announces on ESPNU.

Saluda High defensive tackle and Florida State commitment Dexter Wideman will announce whether he is sticking with the Seminoles or switching to the Gamecocks.

The four-star prospect will take an official visit to Tallahassee this weekend before his decision comes out next Wednesday at his school.

“It’s not a guy Florida State wants to lose,” Hamilton said. “They’re fighting for him, and if South Carolina wins that fight against the national champion, that’s a huge win. That’s one where the fans can stick their chest out and the coaches can feel good about. That one would look real good on signing day.”

South Carolina’s 2011 class included 10 commitments in January and February, including decisions on or near signing day from Jerell Adams, Cedrick Cooper and Phillip Dukes, followed by a Feb. 14 pledge from Clowney.

The in-progress 2014 class numbers 18, and the chance to finish strong is in the Gamecocks’ sights.

“We’re still fighting,” said Steve Spurrier Jr., USC’s recruiting coordinator. “Hopefully, we close out well. If there are some really talented players out there that you’re recruiting, you’ll recruit them to the very end.”


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