South Carolina had not shown much interest in Woodland defensive end Michael Barnett because the Gamecocks thought they were set at defensive end for 2015 with commitments from Shamiek Blackshear, Arden Key and Chauncey Rivers.
But Rivers has switched to Georgia and Key decommitted months ago, so last week the Gamecocks offered Barnett.
"I thought it was pretty good," Barnett said of USC's offer. "I wasn't really expecting it. I didn't think they were showing any interest."
Prior to the offer, Barnett admits he had not given the Gamecocks much thought. But he noted he is very familiar with the program.
"I like them because of their defense and their defensive ends," he said. "(Jadeveon) Clowney's film basically inspired me a little bit. And they have my major (broadcasting), so I will take a look at them."
Clemson offered Barnett earlier, and the Tigers have a leg up on the Gamecocks right now as far as any in-state battle goes.
"I like Clemson more," he said. "They've been recruiting me longer so I can't really deny them."
Barnett is a former Virginia Tech commitment and still has the Hokies at the top of his list. He plans to visit there for a spring practice and also wants to get to Clemson and Florida State. He also has offers from Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, N.C. State and Georgia Tech.
Blackshear of Bluffton has been a USC commitment since last May and continues to hold to that pledge, according to his coach. But like any highly prized football recruit being wooed by schools across the country, Blackshear still has that desire to sniff around at other places.
"Still got people coming in the back door," Bluffton coach Ken Cribb said. "He's being very accommodating and polite and talks to them.
"There's still a couple of big boys coming in. Alabama is keeping in close contact with him. And Florida State."
Cribb said he believes Blackshear remains committed to USC "as long as he don't cost himself from getting extra exposure that he might would like to get as any kid would. As long as he wins Mr. Football and is the No. 1 recruit in the country, I think he'll be fine. And I think he probably is."
Blackshear will attend USC's junior day March 29.
In other recruiting news:
Defensive lineman Tim Settle of Manassas, Va., is one of the top prospects in the country and has nearly 35 offers at this point. Clemson and USC have long been on board with him. Settle was at Clemson's junior day earlier this month.
"It was an amazing visit," he said. "I will be going back up there. I liked the atmosphere, the stadium, the facilities, the team they have and the upcoming program."
He's not heard from USC recently but plans to visit there in April during his spring break. Settle planned to visit West Virginia on Saturday and is also going to visit Virginia, Rutgers and Penn State.
He does not plan to shorten his list and he will announce a decision at the Under Armour Game in January.
"Every school is equal," he said. "I'm giving everyone an opportunity."
South Carolina has joined the list of schools offering defensive back Kaleb Chalmers of Greenwood. The Gamecocks join Clemson, North Carolina, Duke, Stanford, Tennessee, Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern as offers for Chalmers who had 80 tackles and four interceptions last season.
Chalmers has had what he called a "soft offer" from USC, but Thursday, Gamecocks recruiter GA Mangus made the offer official. Chalmers has been to Clemson and Georgia and plans to attend USC's junior day.
Wide receiver Dominique Lemon of Blythewood planned to be at Florida's junior day this past weekend. He went to Georgia's junior day and he has also been to Virginia Tech this month.
Highly regarded defensive end CeCe Jefferson of Glen St. Mary, Fla., has offers from programs across the country, including USC and Clemson. Jefferson is unsure of when he will visit the Palmetto State, but does plan to visit Alabama on March 1 for a junior day.
This past season saw Jefferson make every Florida home game and one Florida State game. His other offers include Florida, Florida State, Miami, Southern Cal, UCLA, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Louisville, Texas, Arkansas, Notre Dame and Penn State.
Defensive end LaSamuel Davis of Bamberg-Ehrhardt and his parents attended Clemson's junior day earlier this month, and that trip has the Tigers out in front at this point, according to his coach.
"His mom and dad fell in love with it," coach Butch Crosby said. "They liked the atmosphere and the family part of it. Clemson is making a big push for him."
USC has not yet offered Davis but remains interested. Crosby said Davis will visit USC when he gets the chance, and not necessarily for a junior day.
"They want him to visit on a one-on-one situation." Davis also will be visiting North Carolina, N.C. State and Florida, according to his coach, and he will make his decision in June.
Running back Ty'son Williams of Crestwood was offered recently by USC. Prior to then he wasn't giving the Gamecocks much thought, but that's changed now.
"I like them, and they didn't sign a running back, so I can go in there and have an immediate impact," Williams said. Williams will attend USC's junior day March 29 and has been talking with Gamecock recruiter Deke Adams.
"Coach Adams is a real cool guy; I talked to him the other day. I'm glad the offer came and I'm really looking into them."
Clemson also has offered Williams, and he was at their junior day earlier this month. He plans to get back to Clemson for a spring practice. Williams said he's definitely interested in both in state schools. He has a top five right now, in no order of USC, Clemson, Georgia, Duke and N.C. State. All have offered, along with North Carolina and Appalachian State.
Running back Taj Griffin of Powder Springs, Ga., has a top five of Clemson, Oregon, Southern Cal, Ohio State and Florida State. He visited Clemson last summer and plans to visit the others as soon as he gets dates set up. He did not name a leader.
Quarterback Kelly Bryant of Wren landed two more big-time offers Friday and Saturday when the Florida Gators and then the Virginia Tech Hokies jumped on board with him. Bryant's other offers are Clemson, USC, North Carolina, N.C. State, Mississippi and Appalachian State. Bryant went to Clemson's and N.C. State's junior days earlier this month and will take more visits around his basketball playoff schedule. North Carolina and Virginia Tech are two others he plans to visit. Bryant wants to make a spring decision.
USC offered highly recruited wide receiver George Campbell of Tarpon Springs, Fla. He was once committed to Michigan. Clemson has been an offer for him for some time. He also has offers from Florida, Florida State, Miami, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State and Arizona State, which just offered. He visited North Carolina on Thursday for the Duke basketball game.
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