High School Sports

Offers elude S.C. high school halfbacks

Nearly five years have passed since the state of South Carolina produced a top-notch high school running back that captured the nation’s attention as former Lexington standout Demetris Summers did.

While the 2008 class is not on course, so far, to change that trend, a couple of players could challenge Summers’ career rushing record. Summers rushed for 9,076 yards from 1999-2003, and Cheraw’s Travis Small and Timberland’s Rockarius King have an outside shot at that mark.

“I believe if we have a good season and I push hard enough, I might be able to get to it,” Small said Sunday during the High School Sports Report Annual Media Day.

While the numbers are impressive, the college recruiters aren’t necessarily beating down the doors of the top running back prospects in the state.

Sumter’s Roderick McDowell committed to Clemson. Small has been offered by Duke — just about the only Division I offer among the remaining top backs.

King is hearing from South Carolina, Clemson and Tennessee but is waiting for an offer. Jeremiah Cochran of Gaffney and Sean Davis of Pelion are hoping big senior seasons will result in Division I offers.

“This is definitely a down year for running backs in the state,” rivals.com South Carolina recruiting analyst Tony Morell said. “McDowell is a guy that can play multiple positions. I know Clemson has discussed playing him at another position, so it’ll be interesting to see where he ends up.”

A possible reason for the lack of major offers is the size of the top-flight backs. Cochran is the only one listed as taller than 6-foot. The remaining backs are listed as weighing less than 200 pounds.

Davis, Pelion’s top returning player, is listed at 5-9, 175. The senior has played one season at running back for the Panthers, and he said he believes that is why he is not drawing notice. He rushed for more than 2,300 yards and 27 touchdowns last season.

A defensive player until making the switch last year, Davis is talking to coaches from South Carolina and Clemson and hopes to parlay a big senior season into more offers.

“Being a defensive player most of my life, I’ve caught on as a running back pretty quickly,” Davis said. “I try to make up for my lack of size with my speed and strength. I feel like I might be a little behind the rest of the running backs, but I feel like I can be as good as they are by the end of the season.”

Though the senior class might not turn many heads nationally, Byrnes’ Marcus Lattimore and Irmo’s Mustafa Greene are two players to watch according to Morrell.

“Summers is the last national type guy to come from the state, but next year should change all of that,” Morell said. “Lattimore should be a top-100 guy and Green a top-250 player with both of them having a chance to move up the list pretty high. Both should be four-star-rated players next season.”

Related stories from The State in Columbia SC