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Recruiting: Gators are in the picture for Townsend

FLORIDA ALWAYS TARGET one or two of the top prospects in South Carolina, and one it is making a strong pitch for is Marlboro County linebacker Lateek Townsend.

He considers the Gators a strong contender for his services.

"I'm thinking Florida highly," he said. "That's a winning program, so things must be done right. I'm going down there soon for an unofficial visit. I've not seen the campus yet. I put them up there with Clemson and Carolina."

Georgia Tech and Louisville are the most recent offers for Townsend, who also has offers from Clemson, USC, N.C. State, Illinois, Maryland, LSU, Miami, Alabama, Tennessee, Nebraska, Michigan State and others.

Mauldin offensive lineman Ryan Norton received a written offer in the mail from Vanderbilt on Thursday, his first offer from an SEC school. He also has offers from Clemson, Georgia Tech, Illinois and East Carolina.

Norton said USC remains interested and wants to see film. He is also getting interest from Duke and North Carolina. He plans to visit North Carolina on March 20 and Vanderbilt on March 27. He will go to Clemson and Georgia Tech for spring practices.

Offensive lineman Kyler Kerbyson of Knoxville was at junior day at Clemson and had a great time. Kerbyson has offers from Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Memphis, Virginia, Duke, and Arkansas. He went to a junior day at Tennessee and had similar impressions to what he saw at Clemson. He plans to take an unofficial visit to Duke on March 20. Kerbyson is hearing from USC.

USC has made an offer to athlete Terrell Chestnut of Pottstown, Pa. Chestnut also has offers from Boston College, Penn State, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Temple, Virginia and West Virginia. He is also getting interest from Syracuse, Purdue, Northwestern and Duke. Chestnut visited Pitt late last month.

Defensive back Douglas Middleton of Winston-Salem, N.C., has been to USC several times, including for last season's Florida and Clemson games, and he likes the Gamecocks the most of all the teams showing interest. He has not yet been offered. Middleton also is drawing interest from Clemson, Wake Forest, Duke, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Marshall and Vanderbilt. He attended USC's junior day and plans to go to one at North Carolina. He said he will visit Clemson and Duke. He plans to make another visit to USC and will camp this summer with the Gamecocks.

Calhoun County quarterback Shamier Jeffery was offered by Louisville. He has offers from USC, West Virginia, Nebraska, Tennessee, Kentucky, Auburn, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Kansas State and Illinois. He was scheduled to be at Clemson on Sunday for the Tigers' first spring practice.

Linebacker Marcus Bullard of Spring Valley has an offer from Wake Forest and is hearing from Clemson, Vanderbilt, Auburn, Maryland, N.C. State, Harvard, Illinois, Stanford and Oregon. He was recently at Wake Forest's junior day, where he came away impressed with the school. Bullard says he is expecting more offers this spring and that Vanderbilt is showing a lot of interest. He plans to go to a junior day there.

Tight end Eric MacLain of Fayetteville, N.C., who was once a Tennessee commitment, has offers from Clemson, USC, North Carolina, Duke, N.C. State, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Arkansas and Maryland. He is hearing from LSU, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and Alabama. He has been to junior days at Tennessee, Duke, and N.C. State. His next two visits are to Clemson and Virginia Tech. This summer, MacLain plans to camp at Clemson, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Duke. He may also visit USC.

Running back Andrew Buie of Jacksonville, Fla., has the offers piling up, including one from USC. Other offers are from Michigan, Iowa State, Ole Miss, North Carolina, Auburn, Maryland and Louisville. Buie's cousin, Gus Scott, played for Steve Spurrier at Florida and is now Buie's running back coach in high school.

Buie plans to go to junior day at Auburn on March 27. He plans to visit several schools this summer, including USC.

Wide receiver Damiere Byrd of Sicklerville, N.J., was at USC for junior day last weekend and came away impressed. Byrd has offers from USC, Louisville, Connecticut, Rutgers, Stanford, Duke and Maryland and is hearing from Clemson, Tennessee, Florida, Oregon, Cincinnati, Cal and Purdue. Byrd says he plans to visit Clemson at some point.

Linebacker Marcquis Roberts of Powder Springs, Ga., has an offer from USC. He is hearing from Georgia Tech, Connecticut, and Boston College. Roberts was born in South Carolina and has family in the state. He was set to go to junior day in Columbia but was unable to make it and will try to get in for a spring practice.

Defensive lineman Derrick Mitchell of Jacksonville, Fla., committed to FSU shortly after their junior day and says his commitment is "pretty strong", but he will continue to camp and take visits.

He is looking at attending camps at Clemson and Alabama, and a team camp at USC. He says Clemson and USC will likely get officials, and he plans to take all five of his visits. Mitchell has offers from USC, Clemson, Florida State, Alabama, North Carolina, Florida International, Illinois and Georgia Tech.