South Carolina lands cornerback Smith

  • Posted: Monday, January 13, 2014 6:49 p.m., Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014 11:19 p.m.

South Carolina is targeting three more cornerbacks for the 2014 class, with one announcing his decision late Monday night.

Defensive back DJ Smith of Marietta, Ga., announced a commitment to USC over Tennessee, becoming the Gamecocks’ 17th commitment for the 2014 class. Smith made his announcement on Fox Sports South.

“I feel like it was just the best fit,” Smith said after making his announcement. “Location-wise, it is very close to home, like two to three hours. Coach (Grady) Brown has been like a second daddy. He’s been there for me. He’s been truthful. I feel like he’s been straightforward with me from the get so. And I just feel like its my best chance for early playing time. So I feel like it’s my best decision.”

Smith is a cornerback, which is the major position of need on the Gamecocks’ defense. Last season, Smith was in on 77 tackles with two interceptions.

“He’s a very good cover corner,” said his coach Rocky Hidalgo. “He’s physical enough to play safety. I think he’s got a chance to be an exceptional player.”

Smith is scheduled for an official visit to USC this weekend and is also scheduled to visit Tennessee on Jan. 24.

The two other corners coveted by the Gamecocks are Wesley Green of Lithonia, Ga., and Chris Lammons of Plantation, Fla. Green is down to USC and Georgia and will make his official visits the next two weekends, with USC up first.

Green has visited both schools, and he planned to take an unofficial visit to Georgia last weekend to give his father a chance to see the school with him.

“Once he takes his trips, a lot of things are going to come to fruition,” Green’s coach Cortez Allen said. “He’ll have something to compare each school to, just to see how he fits in with the guys and what it’s like to really be on campus, get a feel for the school in general.”

Allen expects Green to make a relatively quick decision after the Georgia visit and not drag things out to Signing Day.

“He’s ready for this to be over with. As soon as he can make a clear-cut decision, he’ll probably tweet it out.”

Lammons decommitted from Florida last week and is now considering USC, Wisconsin and Florida State. He has made an official visit to Wisconsin and will visit USC and FSU. That USC visit could be this weekend.

In other recruiting news:

Shrine Bowl DL Poona Ford of Hilton Head decommitted from Louisville on Friday and revealed his final three as Texas, Oregon and Missouri. USC had been on his list, and he said after the Shrine Bowl he would visit, but those plans changed last week. Hilton Head coach BJ Payne said he took Ford to USC for visits three times, but as it turns out, Ford just doesn’t want to stay in state. “I can say this, Everette Sands has done an incredible job recruiting the kid. The kid just doesn’t want to go to South Carolina. ... He just doesn’t feel it’s the right fit for him. It’s nothing against South Carolina or the staff. The kid has just made another decision.”

DL Dexter Wideman of Saluda remains committed to Florida State but will visit USC this weekend, and then it’s anybody’s guess what will happen. “He’s not told me that anything has changed,” said former Saluda coach Doug Painter, who is now the athletics director at Strom Thurmond. There’s strong sentiment in the recruiting world that Wideman eventually will change his pledge to USC. But Painter said while Wideman was at the Under Armour Game, he got an earful from Seminoles pledges. “He got down there and there were other Florida State guys around. You know how 17-year-olds are. He talks to two or three other guys and who knows what he might think?” Wideman is also scheduled to visit Florida State on Jan. 31, unless he switches to USC and decides not to visit. And Painter said there are some compelling reasons for Wideman to flip. “Knowing more of the kids at South Carolina, more in-state guys. He talked to some of those guys at the Shrine Bowl. There’s a little different driving distance for grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, of which he has a number of in Saluda. I think all of that may be a part of his decision- making.” Painter said Wideman will wait until National Signing Day for a ceremony at his school before announcing his decision.

WR Isaiah Ford of Jacksonville, Fla., now favors Virginia Tech after decommitting from Louisville following the departure of Charley Strong to Texas. USC is the only other school he’s considering, and he said he won’t make a final decision until he visits the Gamecocks. Ford is also a basketball standout who is averaging 31 points per game this season, and he said both schools will allow him to play both sports. Ford said he and his mother have communicated recently with USC recruiter Steve Spurrier Jr. and the feedback was highly positive. “He said he was excited about the decommitment, and they need another super athlete because Bruce Ellington is leaving and the spot is open.” Ford said Virginia Tech leads at this point because “they’ve been the most consistent throughout the whole thing. And the opportunity to come in and play as a true freshman is wide open in both sports.” Ford added he won’t rush a second decision. “I’m probably going to pray about it and maybe just wait it out.” This season, Ford had 37 catches for 720 yards and 17 touchdowns.

RB Derrell Scott of Havelock, N.C., is reported by 247Sports.com to now be favoring Tennessee over USC. Florida is also in the picture after offering him, while he has cut N.C. State. Scott has taken official visits to USC, Tennessee and N.C. State and will visit Florida this weekend.

DE Andrew Williams of McDonough, Ga., has set three of his official visits. He goes to Auburn this weekend, Mississippi on the 24th and Clemson on the 31st. He also plans to visit USC, but that will have to be a mid-week visit.

DL Arthur Williams of Fayetteville, N.C., is set on taking an official visit to USC this month. He just doesn’t have a date yet. Meantime, his commitment to Florida State remains in place. “I talk to them all the time,” he said of the Seminoles. Yet, USC is not out of the picture. “They still have a chance,” he said. Miami was another school Williams had planned to visit, but as of now he’s not sure he’ll make that trip.

USC commitment TE Kalan Ritchie of Goose Creek recently picked up an offer from S.C. State, and that led to some speculation that if he didn’t qualify for USC then he would go there instead. But his coach Chuck Reedy said last week Ritchie is firmly committed to the Gamecocks and will stay the course with them. “He’s South Carolina’s,” Reedy said adding that the plan is to place Ritchie at Georgia Military JC if he does not qualify.

USC and Clemson will have their major recruiting weekend this Friday and Saturday with most, if not all, of their committed players taking official visits.

USC is also scheduled to host a handful of uncommitted targets:

DB Wesley Green of Lithonia, Ga.

DL Dexter Wideman of Saluda

OL Damian Prince of Forestville, Md

DB Chris Lammons of Plantation, Fla.

OL Derrick Kelly Jr. of Havana, Fla.

DE Kevin Bronson of Delray Beach, Fla.

The only uncommitted prospect thus far scheduled to visit Clemson this weekend is WR Trevion Thompson of Durham, N.C. Of course, visit plans are fluid and subject to change, so the lists could be adjusted throughout the week.

Juniors


Florida offered LB LaSamuel Davis (6-4, 220) and freshman DB Savalas Cann (6-1, 185) of Bamberg-Ehrhardt on Friday, according to Red Raiders coach Butch Crosby.

WR Freddie Phillips of Pelion has remained in contact with Florida defensive line coach Brad Lawing. and Phillips may visit Gainesville. Phillips has offers from North Carolina and N.C. State. Phillips has visited N.C. State, and the Wolfpack were the first to offer him. He plans to visit other schools this spring but has not finalized a schedule. Phillips wants to wait for more offers to see who is interested in his services before deciding on visits. He has not heard from Clemson or USC in some time. There are no favorites.

WR Tavin Richardson of Byrnes has seen his offer list expand in recent weeks, though Clemson and USC are not among those interested at this point. Richardson has offers from Pittsburgh, Arkansas, Boston College, Cincinnati, Illinois, Louisville, Maryland, Mississippi, Miami, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, Kentucky and Virginia Tech. He’s visited Maryland, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech and plans to take more offers in the spring. Richardson said he won’t make his decision until around signing day of 2015, and right now he doesn’t have any favorites. This season, Richardson had 63 catches for 836 yards and 8 touchdowns.

OL TJ Haney (6-6, 315) of Gaffney holds an offer from Marshall and is getting strong interest from Duke and Vanderbilt. Haney is an excellent student, carrying a better than 4.0 GPA. Clemson, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida State have also expressed interest.

QB Will Brunson of Carolina Forest is waiting on his first offer and continues to hear from Duke, Tennessee, Florida State and East Carolina. Duke and Tennessee, according to Brunson, are showing the most interest. This season, he threw for 2,967 yards, 28 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

DL Albert Huggins of Orangeburg-Wilkinson last week picked up his 14th offer from Georgia Tech. Huggins also has offers from Clemson, USC, Florida State, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisville, Georgia, N.C. State, North Carolina, Auburn, Vanderbilt and S.C. State. He’s not ready to name any favorites.

RB Rocky Reid of Concord, N.C., has visited Clemson several times and has named Clemson and Tennessee as his early favorites. His early offers are from Charlotte and Ohio with interest from North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, Georgia, Arkansas, Ohio State and East Carolina.

ATH Carl Tucker Jr. of Cornelius, N.C., named his top three as Tennessee, North Carolina and Clemson. Each school has offered, along with East Carolina. Other schools showing interest include Penn State and Duke. Tucker visited Clemson for the opening game of the season and he’s also been to Tennessee.

OL Steven Gonzalez of Union City, N.J., is listing a top five, in order, as Ohio State, Rutgers, USC, Boston College and Wisconsin.

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