If South Carolina does not land his services, the Gamecocks may still end up seeing Maurice Couch up close and personal each season.
The Garden City Community College (Kan.) defensive tackle has maintained for much of the last month that South Carolina and Tennessee were the leading contenders for his signature. However, the status quo may have changed.
Couch tweeted Monday night that even though Florida is showing new interest in him, he still has “Tennessee far out on top of everyone.” He tweeted Sunday that he has decided where he is going, but he is waiting to “get info about a personal matter” before he makes an announcement.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the 6-foot-2, 300-pounder end up playing for the Volunteers. He committed to Tennessee in October before reneging several hours later, saying he wanted to further explore his other options before making a final decision.
It appears Florida and Southern Cal, which has been recruiting for him months, are his other suitors. Couch expects to choose a school by early December.
The team that lands Couch, who will have three years of eligibility remaining, will be gaining the services of the best defensive linemen in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference, Garden City defensive line coach Bill Griffith said. In fact, Griffith believes he may be the best overall player in the league.
“He’s the best player in the conference,” he said. “I don’t know if he’ll even get voted first team because of the politics that exist in this league.”
Couch was an all-state tackle at Orlando’s Edgewater (Fla.) High School, a Class 6A behemoth that routinely churns out major-college prospects. He is now rated the nation’s 11th-best junior college prospect by Rivals.com.
Couch mostly played 3-technique tackle for the Broncbusters this season, compiling 45 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, three sacks and one forced fumble in nine games. Griffith believes he has the versatility to fulfill a similar role at his next school or shift to nose tackle in a 4-3 defense or defensive end in a 3-4 scheme.
“The combination of his large body frame and his athleticism [is just amazing],” Griffith said. “The flexibility between his hips and his hamstrings is almost unconceivable for a 300-pound man. He’s just very, very athletic, so he’s very fast-twitch in terms of ball get-offs and change of direction and flattening out to getting in a athletic position to make plays. He’s very much a difference maker.”
Couch and Griffith spent a lot of time last offseason working on his pass rush moves. He was able to bull or speed rush his way to the quarterback in high school, but now he’s developed several other moves, including an effective spin, to help him evade offensive linemen.
“We gave him a little more freedom that we did to others because of his athleticism,” Griffith said. “We would put him out on the edge [as a defensive end]. It would be third-and-long and sometimes we’d stand him up in a two-point stance just to show a different look. He could play all five positions up there.”