GoGamecocks

Taking stock of USC's recruiting

Kelcy Quarles, left, stands with his father, Buddy Quarles, who played football at USC under Joe Morrison in the mid-1980s.
Kelcy Quarles, left, stands with his father, Buddy Quarles, who played football at USC under Joe Morrison in the mid-1980s.

National Signing Day is now less than six weeks away, and they could be pivotal in the continued growth of South Carolina’s football program.

With the addition of Ardrey Kell (N.C.) tight end Drew Owens earlier this week, the Gamecocks have put together a solid, 26-man class thus far. While all of them are rated three-star prospects or better by Rivals, four of them – Kelcy Quarles, Brison Williams, Brandon Shell and Damiere Byrd – are four-star players.

USC is still in the mix for more highly touted recruits like Jadeveon Clowney, Jacoby Brissett, Josue Matias, Sheldon Royster and Lateek Townsend. All of them have the potential to be difference-makers, perhaps early in their careers, for whichever school they choose.

The Gamecocks continue to recruit at least 17 players. It is expected at the moment that they would take commitments from any of them, though that could change in the coming weeks if USC fills up at certain positions.

With National Signing Day approaching, we take stock of USC’s current recruiting class and the additions that are possible:

Quarterback

Commitments: Martay Mattox

Targets: Jacoby Brissett, Tanner McEvoy

Analysis: USC would like to add another quarterback to its signing class. Mattox was a successful prep signal caller, but he may ultimately move to the secondary in Columbia. Both Brissett and McEvoy, like Mattox, are dual-threat players. Brissett is the higher-rated player, but USC likely has a better chance to land McEvoy.

Running back

Commitments: Shon Carson, Brandon Wilds

Targets: None

Analysis: Already holding a commitment from Class of 2012 standout Kendric Salley – and with Marcus Lattimore in the fold for at least two more seasons – the Gamecocks are not expected to add another tailback in this class. Carson will also play baseball. Wilds is expected to enroll in January.

Wide receiver

Commitments: K.J. Brent, Damiere Byrd, Shamier Jeffery

Targets: None

Analysis: With several underclassmen on the depth chart at receiver already, this wasn’t a need position for the Gamecocks. However, they landed two big targets (Brent and Jeffery) and a burner. Byrd, who will also run track, may be the fastest player in the country. USC isn’t expected to add more receivers to this class.

Tight end

Commitments: Drew Owens

Targets: Jerell Adams, Rory Anderson

Analysis: The commitment of Owens adds a player who is a balanced tight end, equally adept at blocking and passing. Adams and Anderson are smaller players who would likely help most in the passing game. With both Adams and Anderson leaning toward USC, it’s possible the Gamecocks will end up with three tight ends in this class.

Offensive line

Commitments: Kaleb Broome, Brandon Shell, Mike Matulis, Quincy McKinney, Kyle Harris, Will Sport

Targets: Josue Matias

Analysis: This was likely USC’s biggest need area, and the Gamecocks certainly addressed it. Broome, a junior college transfer, and Shell could contribute next season. Broome, Shell, Sport and Matulis figure to play tackle, while the others are pegged to play either guard or center. The Gamecocks remain in the hunt for one more lineman.

Defensive line

Commitments: Kelcy Quarles, Lorenzo Mauldin, Deon Green, Mason Harris

Targets: Jadeveon Clowney, Gerald G. Dixon, Gerald Dixon Jr., Roderick Byers, Phillip Dukes, Kevin McReynolds, Leon Mackey

Analysis: This is perhaps the biggest remaining need for the Gamecocks, who would love to add an instinctive pass rusher like Clowney. Mauldin and Harris will be ends in Columbia, Green will play tackle and Quarles has the ability to play either position. Of the remaining targets on USC’s board, only Clowney and Mackey are sure to play end in college. USC may have to juggle the numbers if several of these targets commit.

Linebacker

Commitments: Brandon Golson, Angelo Watley

Targets: Lateek Townsend, Dexter Staley, Cedric Cooper

Analysis: Watley could end up playing defensive line or tight end. Two prep linebackers, Jordan Montgomery and Edward Muldrow, will get the chance to fulfill USC’s “Spur” position in the secondary but could move to linebacker. Townsend and Staley could be early impact players, though Staley is a long shot to qualify academically.

Secondary

Commitments: Thomas Finnie, Jared Henry, Kadetrix Marcus, Ronnie Martin, Brison Williams, Edward Muldrow, Jordan Montgomery

Targets: Sheldon Royster, Marcquis Roberts

Analysis: Finnie and Martin are the only true corners in this class. Henry, Marcus, Williams, Muldrow and Montgomery were all either used as prep safeties or linebackers. Royster and Roberts are also safety- or outside linebacker-type players. The Gamecocks have a chance to land both Royster and Roberts.

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