Phil Kornblut

Gamecocks reconnect with former Tennessee commit, target

Get to know: Rock Hill High receiver Antonio Barber

Get to know Rock Hill High School wide receiver Antonio Barber better in this video interview. Barber is a junior committed to play college football at the University of Tennessee.
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Get to know Rock Hill High School wide receiver Antonio Barber better in this video interview. Barber is a junior committed to play college football at the University of Tennessee.

A year ago, South Carolina was one of the favorites with wide receiver Antonio Barber (6-foot-2, 195 pounds), formerly of Rock Hill but now in Cornelius, North Carolina. But, Barber surprised many by committing to Tennessee on April 27, 2018. That commitment lasted nearly a year until Barber announced a decommitment last month.

In the background, USC continued to keep an eye on Barber and Tuesday morning he got a call from recruiter Bobby Bentley.

“Coach Bentley just called me and wanted to let me know that he, Bryan McClendon and Coach Muschamp all sat down for a recruiting meeting today, and with a lot of spring ball about to start, they are going to go out and make their runs, and they let me know I was high on their board,” Barber said. “Right now they have a board of five receivers they are looking at and I was on that board. And they were telling me that now that I’m off of Tennessee that I’m a priority for them, and he (Bentley) wants me to get to campus as soon as I can, and they want me to start rebuilding my relationship with them. I had kind of distanced myself from them when I was committed because I was locked in. Now they want to build that relationship back up and see where it goes.”



To Barber, this was a significant phone call. For whatever reason, he committed to the Vols last spring over South Carolina and others. But his strongest ties are with the Gamecock program. He said he’s been waiting to hear back from them before moving forward with his recruiting plans.



“Once they offer me the scholarship, it’s going to be very huge for me and my family,” he said. “I’ve got two of my god-brothers, Gerald Dixon and Gerald Dixon Sr., both played at South Carolina. I’m actually first cousin with Jadeveon Clowney. I’m tied in there a lot. My uncle, Tony Watkins, played there in the 90s.”



Barber said he hasn’t visited USC since December and he’s looking forward to getting back to the campus and rekindling that old relationship he had prior to his Tennessee pledge.



“South Carolina was really hot with me at that point, they were like in the top three schools,” he said. “Once I committed to Tennessee, South Carolina let me know they were still going to be on my trail, they were never going to let up. And when Coach Bentley called me this morning, he was like, ‘Didn’t I remind you that we would still be there?’ And I’m like, you did say that.”



Barber said he has offers from N.C. State, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Syracuse and others. West Virginia, Maryland and Arizona also have been showing interest. This spring he has visited Virginia Tech, Georgia, North Carolina and NC State..

Last season, Barber help to re-establish the Rock Hill High program as a winner. He had 28 catches for 575 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Notes:

Dallas, Georgia 2021 linebacker Smael Mondon was offered by USC.

Fort Lauderdale, Flordia 2022 offensive lineman Julian Armella was offered by the Gamecocks.

Dublin, Ohio running back Mike Drennen (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) as offered by South Carolina. Some of his other offers are Ohio State, Alabama, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Penn State and Auburn.

Charlotte linebacker Trenton Simpson, a USC s and Clemson target, visited Georgia Tuesday.

Gamecocks offensive lineman commitment Issiah Walker of Miami visited Miami for a scrimmage Saturday and later told CaneSports, “My recruitment is still open so I’m open to every school.” Walker also has visited Florida, Florida State and Central Florida and said LSU and Penn State also remain high with him.

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