High School Sports

Former QBs help transform S.C. secondary class

Stephon Gilmore, defensive back for South Pointe High School in Rock Hill.
Stephon Gilmore, defensive back for South Pointe High School in Rock Hill.

South Pointe High quarterback Stephon Gilmore was asked at the recent High School Sports Report annual Media Day what position he would prefer to play in college.

He didn’t take long to answer, and his response could be repeated at many high schools across the state as the recruiting season shakes out.

“I don’t really care what position they play me at,” Gilmore said. “I feel like I can go out and do whatever is needed, but more than likely I will play corner at the next level.”

Experts agree.

“The top guy coming out this year is probably Gilmore because he is projected as a corner in college,” rivals.com South Carolina recruiting analyst Tony Morrell said. “With his size and flexibility, he has a chance to be a great one on the next level. He’s in the 6-foot-1 range, and you don’t find many corners with that size.”

David Sims of Calhoun County is another who is playing mostly quarterback in high school but expected by recruiting analysts to switch to defensive back in college.

While Gilmore could be the top defensive back in the 2009 class, there is no shortage of touted players in the secondary — especially at safety.

Columbia High’s DeMario Jeffrey and Gilmore’s teammate, Devonte Holloman, are as good as they get on the high school level. Both are hard hitters and project as outside linebackers in college because of their size: 6-3, 215 lbs.

Jeffrey said his coaches plan to use him in many positions.

“I can’t cut it down to one position right now,” Jeffrey said. “I think the plan is to try and play me all over the field and see what happens. If we play against teams that run the ball a lot, I think I’ll play a lot of linebacker. But I think my best spot is at strong safety.”

Holloman has committed to Clemson; Jeffrey has narrowed his list to South Carolina, Alabama, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Southern Cal and Oklahoma.

Chris Payne, a teammate of Jeffrey, likely will line up at linebacker for the Capitals, but he could move to safety or corner in college. He is committed to South Carolina.

“If Payne were two inches taller, he would have offers from everyone in the country,” Morrell said. “He’s very similar to a guy like Emmanuel Cook at South Carolina. They are nearly the same size and the toughness and physical play are nearly identical.”

Greenwood possesses another highly touted secondary: D.J. Swearinger and Byron Best rate among the top 30 players in the state. Swearinger has offers from Clemson, South Carolina and Georgia among others. Best has offers from Virginia Tech, North Carolina and East Carolina.

Byrnes’ Justin Bright has committed to Florida State.