For most of the recruiting campaign it has appeared South Carolina has held a firm upper hand with defensive end Brad Johnson of Pendleton. And the Gamecocks do remain in a strong place with him.
But they have company from Virginia Tech.
The Hokies have made a concerted recruiting effort for Johnson and, according to Pendleton coach Paul Sutherland, the Hokies are right there with the Gamecocks in the competition for his Shrine Bowl defensive end.
“Its 1A and 1B in no particular order,” Sutherland said. “I see it going either way there. He hasn’t told me that. I’m just telling you who has shown him the most interest and who he has talked to the most. And he’s very interested in Tennessee.”
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Johnson’s last visit to USC was for the Gamecocks’ biggest moment of the season to date, the win over Tennessee on a Saturday night in Columbia.
“He absolutely loved the atmosphere,” the coach said. “He said it was everything he hoped it would be. His mom said they had a wonderful time.”
Johnson has not yet scheduled his official visits, and because he’s been to USC several times unofficially, Sutherland said he may opt to not take one with the Gamecocks. However, other official visits are in the works.
“I talked a long time today with Virginia Tech and the combination of them probably being in the ACC championship game and him being in the Shrine Bowl and the dead period, it’s looking like January for an official visit to Virginia Tech,” Sutherland said. “It’s looking like January for an official visit to Virginia Tech, which is not ideal for any of us because he wanted a decision made by then. But Virginia Tech is a definite and he might go to Tennessee, Mississippi State and Texas A&M. And South Carolina, he may or may not take an official there just based on he’s been there so many times.”
Virginia Tech wanted Johnson to visit Dec. 10 for their big recruiting weekend, but he has to report to the Shrine Bowl that weekend, so Jan. 22 is the alternate date at this point.
Culpepper not hearing from USC
Defensive back Naytron Culpepper of Miami has been strong on USC and the Gamecocks have been recruiting him for an extended period, but Wednesday Culpepper said he has not spoken with the USC coaching staff recently.
Culpepper took an official visit to USC Oct. 22 and still has the Gamecocks as one of his top schools, but he hasn’t communicated with head coach Will Muschamp or defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson in three to four weeks.
Culpepper was planning to take an official visit to Michigan State this weekend but will not make it due to time limitations with the coaches.
“We wouldn’t have enough time to communicate with the coaches and stuff, so it would be best if I just waited, talk to the coaches, really get to see the actual campus and really get to talk to the players,” Culpepper said.
He said he still frequently communicates with the Michigan State coaching staff and is planning to visit another weekend. As for his three other official visits, Culpepper is looking at Maryland, Indiana, Utah and Mississippi State. He said Indiana and Maryland have been recruiting him the hardest.
He plans to announce his decision at the end of the season.
▪ Former USC DE commitment Javon Kinlaw of Jones County College (Miss.) was offered by Southern Cal on Wednesday night. He also picked up an offer from Ole Miss since decommitting earlier this week.
▪ 2018 Spring Valley LB and USC target Channing Tindall was offered by Auburn Wednesday night.
▪ 2018 DE Xavier Thomas of Wilson plans a return visit to USC this weekend. He was at Florida last weekend. He’s also been to Clemson, Georgia and Alabama this season.
▪ 2018 DB Christopher Smith of Hapeville, Ga., a USC target, was offered Wednesday by Georgia.