If South Carolina is going to start a pipeline to one Atlanta high school, it could do a lot worse than Tucker in the city’s Northeast corner.
“They’ve been able to do a good job,” Tucker head coach Bryan Lamar told The State. “We’ve had three All-Americans in the last three years, and they’ve all gone to South Carolina.”
That’s South Carolina sophomore defensive lineman Aaron Sterling and incoming Gamecocks freshmen wide receiver Josh Vann and offensive lineman Dylan Wonnum. And that doesn’t include the player that started it all – South Carolina junior defensive end D.J. Wonnum, Dylan’s older brother who played at Stephenson.
“Those guys were all pretty close,” Lamar said. “D.J. Wonnum was the first one up there. I think he had a pretty good relationship with Aaron. Aaron felt comfortable there. He had a good relationship with the staff. He liked Coach (Mike) Peterson. He liked everybody. Of course, Josh actually committed to South Carolina before Dylan did, but D.J. being there was a big part of Dylan going there as well. Dylan had a lot of different schools he was interested in. His brother being there was the big factor.”
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Vann, a four-star wide receiver who will start classes at South Carolina on June 4, has known Sterling since the sixth grade and said that did make a difference in his recruiting. Vann had scholarship offers from Georgia and Alabama as well.
“When (South Carolina) started recruiting me, I knew it would be OK if I went because there was somebody I knew personally growing up so I wouldn’t have any trouble trying to meet new people,” Vann said. “It’s a little better knowing that people that you know are already there.”
Tucker’s talent is not drying up anytime soon either. This year’s senior class includes three-star defensive end Derrick McClendon, who’s projected to attend Alabama. The junior class has cornerback Isaiah Dunson, who Lamar said South Carolina was the first school to make a recruiting offer to, and Lamar estimates his rising sophomore class will have between seven and 10 FBS level recruits.
South Carolina offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon and defensive line coach Lance Thompson, both Georgia natives, do most of South Carolina’s recruiting in Atlanta, which was also a major target for the Gamecocks previous coaching staff. Former Gamecocks defensive coordinator Lorenzo “Whammy” Ward still recruits Tucker High School for Louisville.
“South Carolina has always recruited Atlanta,” Lamar said. “Whammy was here the other day. Whammy actually recruited me in high school. Whammy did a good job, but sometimes you get a new staff in place, you get a new vision in place.”