USC continued to build its secondary of the future with a commitment from Summerville defensive back Darin Smalls on Saturday.
The Gamecocks were the first to offer a scholarship to Smalls (5-11, 205) in early December have been the leaders for his services throughout the recruiting process.
He originally planned to wait until signing day but made his pledge Saturday while in Columbia for a seven-on-seven tournament.
"I felt like it was the right moment," Smalls said. "I was ready to make my decision."
The consensus three-star prospect is the top-rated defensive back in South Carolina for 2014 and the 13th best instate player, according to 247Composite, which factors in all rankings.
"They play five DBs so my chances of playing would be high," Smalls said. "Their coverages are similar to what we do so I could fit right in."
Smalls last season had 58 tackles and five interceptions, including three returned for touchdowns. He also had more than 600 return yards and three scores.
He had six interceptions his sophomore season, two of those returns for touchdowns, to go with 60 tackles.
Smalls also has speed on his resume, with a 4.4-second 40-yard dash time, according to Rivals. He was on Summerville’s 4x100 meter relay state championship team in 2012.
Running back coach Everette Sands is his recruiter of record for South Carolina, but it was secondary coach Grady Brown who actually offered Smalls.
He also had offers from Clemson, Virginia Tech, Florida, State, NC State, Georgia Tech, West Virginia, Tennessee, Louisville and Oklahoma.
He could play corner or safety at South Carolina, as well as a return man. He will also play receiver as a senior at Summerville, but his future is on defense.
“Mostly because I’m physical,” Smalls said. “I don’t take getting beat lightly. I guess that’s what they see on my film. They like that about me.”
Smalls is the 7th commitment for USC's 2014 class and the 5th from South Carolina.