Assuming their commitments hold up, South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward can look forward to having a pair of highly prized defensive ends on his unit starting in 2015.
Last month, Shamiek Blackshear of Bluffton committed to the Gamecocks. On Sunday, Arden Key (6-6, 208 pounds) of Lithonia, Ga., committed to USC, becoming the Gamecocks’ third commitment for the 2015 class.
Key holds offers from Clemson, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, Stanford, North Carolina, Tennessee, Southern Cal and UCLA. He said his final choices were USC and Georgia. He visited USC on Friday and was impressed.
“The academic part, it’s like you have to try to fail,” Key said. “I love the coaches. They are always ready for something. And it isn’t far from home.”
Key had 12 sacks and 58 tackles last season.
“I like the physicality of the defense, they always want to make contact,” he said. “I like coach (Deke) Adams and the way he coaches.”
In other recruiting news:
LB Kendall Joseph (6-1, 230) of Belton-Honea Path committed to Clemson on Monday over Duke and Louisville. Joseph visited Clemson and Duke in the past two weeks before making his decision. BHP coach Russell Blackston credits Clemson recruiter and linebackers coach Brent Venables for winning this battle for the Tigers.
“He did an unbelievable job breaking things down and telling Kendall everything he needed to hear,” Blackston said.
Last season, Joseph had 129 tackles with 10 quarterback hurries and six tackles for loss.
“He’s ideal in Clemson’s 4-3 scheme as an inside, middle linebacker,” his coach said. “What he does best is stop the run. He does a good job commanding as a field general.”
Joseph is also a three-time state weightlifting champion. He bench-presses 350 pounds and squats 480 pounds. Joseph is the 12th commitment for the Tigers’ 2014 class. He’s the sixth from the state and the third linebacker commitment for the Tigers.
RB Nick Chubb of Cedartown, Ga., committed to Georgia last week over USC and Auburn. Chubb had narrowed his choice to those three several weeks ago and visited each last month before announcing his decision. He’s regarded as the top running back prospect in Georgia for the 2014 class.
RB Stanley Williams of Monroe, Ga., committed to Kentucky while on a visit to the school. The former Georgia commitment also looked hard at Clemson and USC.
ATH Jefferie Gibson of Hope Mills, N.C., committed to N.C. State last week over Clemson. He had also considered North Carolina. Gibson plans to be a receiver at N.C. State. Clemson recruited him as a safety.
USC missed on the only quarterback they have offered thus far in the 2014 class, Kentucky commitment Drew Barker. South Aiken QB Bo Baldwin hopes to change that June 22 when he will attend a seven on seven camp at USC.
“I think he’s got a real good possibility at South Carolina,” said Baldwin’s coach Jeremy West. “If he shows up and does a good job at USC next weekend, things might move a little bit.”
USC quarterbacks coach GA Mangus checked on Baldwin on the last day he could be out in the spring and got a chance to see him throw. Baldwin has been hampered by injuries the past two seasons, so there’s little game film on him, and West says that’s one reason schools have been reticent to offer.
Clemson offered junior quarterback Lorenzo Nunez of Kennesaw, Ga., last week during a camp session. The Tigers also offered a pair of 2016 QBs — Jawon Pass of Columbus, Ga., and Bowman Sells of Allen, Texas.
DL Da’Shawn Hand of Woodbridge, Va., eliminated USC and Virginia Tech and now has Alabama, Florida and Michigan as his top three. Hand will take official visits to his three favorites, along with Southern Cal and LSU.
South Aiken junior DE Rasool Clemmons has offers from Clemson, Virginia and Florida State and is drawing interest from USC and LSU. His coach will take him to Florida State later this summer. Clemmons also will play some receiver this season.
DB Wesley Green of Atlanta visited USC on Friday with his father, and Green now has the Gamecocks as his favorite. He has a top five, in order, of USC, Mississippi, Tennessee, Clemson and Georgia. He plans to announce a decision on July 1.
OL Damian Prince of Forestville, Md., released his top 10 last week, and USC is on the list. Also in his top 10 are Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Maryland, Ohio State, Rutgers, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. He also plans to visit Ohio. He has visited Maryland and Rutgers.
DE Rick Leonard of Middletown, Md., attended Clemson’s camp and now favors the Tigers over Florida State. Leonard plans to visit Florida State in July and will make his decision following that trip. Leonard had 60 tackles and 12 sacks last season.
Clemson also is one of the favorites of Leonard’s teammate, OL Justin Falcinelli. He’s had Clemson and Maryland at the top of his list. He, too, camped at Clemson last week.
WR Ryshene Bronson of Fort Myers, Fla., has a new top five of USC, Clemson, Tennessee, South Florida and LSU, in no order. The Gamecocks have a slight lead over Clemson because of their conference affiliation. Bronson was previously committed to Florida. He will take official visits to USC and Clemson.
He does not have a time frame for a decision.
DB Kendall Randolph of Tallahassee has scheduled a visit to USC for this Friday. Randolph has a top five of USC, Georgia, Miami, Florida State and Alabama, in no particular order. “The only two schools in my top five that I have not visited are South Carolina and Miami,” he said. He plans to announce on National Signing Day.
Southern Miss signed former USC commitment Thaddeus Hall, 6-5, of New York. Hall never signed with the Gamecocks but had planned to transfer to USC after completing his academic work at South Plains JC in Texas.
The Golden Eagles also signed 6-6 Leroy Fludd and 6-4 Shadell Milllinghaus of Believe Prep in Rock Hill. Both were also recruited by USC.
Southern Miss is also getting 6-1 Deonte Houston of New York, a former Coastal Carolina commitment who was released from his commitment after it was learned he had a couple of arrests on his record. Charges in both cases were dropped.
CJ Davis of Queens, N.Y., said he will visit USC later this summer when his AAU team is in North Augusta for the Peach Jam. Davis, a point guard, has offers from the Gamecocks, Seton Hall, Fordham, Columbia and Washington. He visited Columbia University on Sunday afternoon.