South Carolina basketball coach Darrin Horn took the first step toward returning stability to his program Friday afternoon when he drove to Greenville and met with signee Damien Leonard and his mother.
Horn's program was rocked earlier in the day by the announcement that Murphy Holloway was leaving the program. Holloway's announcement came on the heels of Ramon Galloway's departure and Bruce Ellington's decision to play football and become a part-time basketball player. Horn needed some good news, and he got it from Leonard.
"We saw some stuff that Damien Leonard wants out," Leonard's AAU coach Willis Holiday said. "That's not true. Damien Leonard wants to be a Gamecock. We're coming to play for the University of South Carolina. Damien signed with USC. He wants to help change the program. And he wants to play for Darrin Horn."
In other recruiting news:
Irmo PG Jordan Roper (6-1, 170) picked up an offer from Clemson last Thursday. "I'm really excited," Roper said. "It's a great feeling to get that first major Division I offer. Coach Brad Brownell told me he thought I'd have a great career, and I'm the only point guard in my class he's looking at. And he said he doesn't hand out offers like candy." Roper also has offers from VCU, Tulane, Presbyterian, Tennessee State, UNC Asheville and High Point. Roper said right now Clemson and VCU are his top two.
Brownell made a second trip to Laney High School in Augusta last Monday to check in on 6-2 guard Rod Hall. Brownell scouted Hall during the season, according to Hall's mother Tracie. Brownell has not offered Hall but is considering doing so. Hall is expecting to hear something from Brownell this week. Hall has offers from Nebraska, Coastal Carolina, Tennessee State and N.C. State. An offer from Clemson would make his decision an easy one. He would commit to the Tigers. "He has his heart set on it," Tracie Hall said. "If offered, he would go." Hall averaged over 26 points per game this past season.
Junior forward Brice Johnson (6-8) of Edisto holds offers from Clemson, USC, Florida and Georgia Southern at this point. He's also getting interest from Wichita State, Virginia Tech and Virginia. According to his father and coach Herman Johnson, Clemson and USC are showing the strongest interest, with Clemson making the heaviest push right now. But his son does not have a favorite at this point. Johnson has not made any visits this spring because of his track schedule. Over the weekend he was at an AAU event in Indianapolis. During the season he visited Florida, USC, Clemson and Georgia Southern. His father said they are not sure when he will sign. Last season Johnson averaged 23 points, 12 rebounds and 6 blocks per game.
Clemson has moved out front for WR Jabril Solomon (6-2, 175) of Hemingway, according to Hemingway assistant coach Clay Owens. "Clemson leads, but he will go through the process," Owens said. Solomon has visited Clemson. He will go to East Carolina for its spring game April 16. And he will camp at Coastal Carolina. Those three have offered, along with Nebraska and N.C. State. He's also hearing from Alabama and Florida. Last season, Solomon had 54 catches for 1,189 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also had 84 tackles with 11 interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns. He also returned two kickoffs for scores.
WR Shaq Roland (6-2, 180) of Lexington visited Alabama on Thursday and Friday and stopped by Auburn on Saturday. He was joined by his coach, Scott Earley. Roland recently visited North Carolina for the Duke basketball game. He plans to visit USC this week for a spring practice. Roland is down to USC, Florida, Alabama and Georgia, with USC a big favorite at this point. He plans to make his final decision before the start of football practice this summer.
TE Kevin Rainey (6-3, 210) of Yulee, Fla., visited USC last Wednesday, along with one of his coaches, and left Columbia with the Gamecocks still out in front for his services. "It was a great experience," Rainey said. "Everything about it I liked. We toured the campus, and I talked with some players." Rainey spent much of his time with recruiters Steve Spurrier Jr. and Jay Graham. He also met with Steve Spurrier in his office before departing. "He said he can't wait to get me up there, and he's glad to have me," Rainey said. Rainey admitted he nearly committed to Spurrier before leaving. "I was kind of close," he said. "He knows I'm strongly interested. I mentioned it. But I'm going to check out Miami on Thursday. South Carolina is out front, but Miami is catching up. I'm going to give them a good, hard look." Last Saturday he was at Georgia. He plans to make a decision shortly after his Miami visit.
DB Elijah Shumate (6-1, 205) of Ramsey, N.J., says USC remains in his top five. Shumate says he has not finalized his plans but would like to visit Columbia in April. He has USC, Penn State, Connecticut, North Carolina and Rutgers as his top five in no order. Other visits Shumate would like to take are to Georgia, North Carolina and Penn State. He has offers from each of his top schools as well as Notre Dame, Southern Cal, Maryland, Colorado, Arizona and Pitt, among others. Shumate says he would like to make his commitment before September. He does not have a leader.
DE (6-4, 245) of Hyattsville, Md., had Clemson in his top five but he committed to Penn State last week.
DL Earl Moore (6-2, 280) of Tampa says USC and Florida State are his current top two. They have offered, along with Georgia, South Florida, Southern Cal, Texas Tech, Miami and Florida. Moore has not been on any visits but plans to take some this summer, with USC and Southern Cal on his agenda. He said he won't make a final decision until close to signing day next February.
DB Da'Quan Davis (5-11, 170) of Baltimore has taken several visits to USC and says an offer from the Gamecocks "would be a blessing". He attended a 7-on-7 camp in Columbia last summer and returned for the USC-Alabama game. He also attended several basketball games at USC. Davis has an offer from West Virginia. Rutgers, Virginia and Penn State could offer soon, and Notre Dame, USC, Temple and Vanderbilt are showing interest. He currently favors West Virginia.
Ninety Six OL Oliver Jones (6-6, 305) has been to Clemson, Georgia and USC and was scheduled to visit North Carolina last Saturday. He is also considering visiting USC to watch a spring practice, and he plans to go back to Clemson and Georgia to watch a spring practice. Alabama might also get a visit. USC and Clemson remain his only offers right now. More offers are likely after recruiters watch him this season. Jones missed all of last season with injuries. As for his feelings on Clemson and USC right now, Jones said he has no favorite between them.
QB Chad Voytik (6-1 205) of Cleveland, TN has offers from Mississippi State, Pitt, Virginia, Vanderbilt, and Arkansas State. He was at Pitt last week and will he will visit Clemson April 9th for the spring game. Voytik says he likes the Tigers and is excited about attending the spring game. "I have always heard good things about their program," he said. "I like coach (Chad) Morris and I look forward to getting to know him and their staff better." Voytik says he would like to camp at Clemson and Vanderbilt over the summer. Voytik threw for over 1800 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior. He rushed for another 460 yards and seven scores. He did not name a leader.
DB Shaq Beverly (5-10 190) of Jacksonville, FL will visit USC March 31st with a couple of teammates, he said. "We're going to watch their practice, meet the coaches, and take a tour of the facilities," Beverly said. The Gamecocks have not yet offered Beverly but are showing him a lot of interest. He has offers from Central Florida, Troy, Louisville, Vanderbilt, Florida International, and Memphis and says USC, Florida State, and South Florida could offer soon. His brother, Eric Beverly, will be a freshman for the Seminoles this upcoming season. Beverly attended UCF's junior day Saturday and came away impressed. As a junior, he totaled 25 tackles, 12 pass break ups, and three forced fumbles. He does not have a favorite.
DL Josh Banks (6-4 250) of Apex, NC has an offer from Wake Forest and is hearing from Clemson, NC State, Florida, Duke, Ball State, and Liberty. Banks attended junior days at Wake Forest and Duke and went back to Duke over the weekend. He plans to visit Clemson over the summer and could camp there. He will visit Liberty and camp at NC State and North Carolina. Banks does not have a favorite.