Da'von Durant, a linebacker at Butler (Kan.) Junior College, has wanted to play for South Carolina for years dating to his days as a Shrine Bowl player at Greenwood High School.
On Tuesday he plans to finally take that next step by committing to the Gamecocks.
"Coach (Kirk) Botkin is coming out to see me," Durant said of his recruiter and the Gamecocks' linebackers coach. "I'm ready. I'm excited to get back home and make plays."
Durant, a 6-4, 240-pound four-star recruit, plays outside linebacker in a 3-4 alignment at Butler and knows that USC is planning to use more of a 3-4 look starting this season. His spring game is May 9 and he says he's had a very good spring practice thus far.
"I've been working on the small stuff like technique and getting off the ball and pass rush," Durant said. Durant said he is on track to graduate in December and will have three years to play two.
In other recruiting news:
Quarterback Kelly Bryant (6-4, 205) of Wren, the state's top quarterback prospect for the 2015 class, committed to Clemson last week.
Bryant had narrowed his focus to the Tigers, Florida, N.C. State, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
"Clemson was the leader. I was just going back and forth," Bryant said. "Not much difference. But then I talked to Coach (Dabo) Swinney and Coach (Chad) Morris and those phone calls finalized everything for me. I knew Clemson was where I needed to be."
Bryant emerged as a true quarterback prospect last season fighting off the label of "athlete" by insisting on being recruited as a quarterback. Last season he passed for 2,805 yards and 28 touchdowns and rushed for 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns.
"He can keep a play alive and he looks to throw the football," said Wren coach Jeff Tate. "He sees the field well and has learned how to get the ball out of his hand really quick. And he understands the coverages."
Defensive lineman Gage Cervenka (6-3, 265) of Emerald, a lifelong Clemson fan, realized that childhood dream of joining the Tiger program last week when he committed during an on-campus visit.
"My biggest thing is when I was younger, and this recent season when I went to the Georgia game, all the fans, they are never quiet," Cervenka said. "It's just unique."
Cervenka also had offers from Miami, Virginia Tech, Duke, Wake Forest and N.C. State. Cervenka is also a three-time state wrestling champion and the Clemson defensive coaches view him as a run-plugging interior lineman right now. Last season he had 100 tackles with 28 for loss and 3 sacks. The Tigers now have 11 commitments for their 2015 class.
USC currently is the team to beat for tight end Connor Redmond (6-4, 230) of Decatur, Ga., following a recent visit for a spring practice. Redmond got a good look at the program and the city and liked everything he saw.
"I really like the city of Columbia," he said. "It's not too far from home but far enough to be away from home. I really like the coaches. They are laid back and down to earth. And I like that they've been doing good and they have new facilities that are impressive."
Redmond also has visited Boston College, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Auburn and N.C. State. He doesn't have any more visits planned right now but would like to visit Georgia again, Ole Miss, Florida, Florida State, Mississippi State and Clemson, though he's not hearing much from the Tigers.
Wide receiver Auden Tate (6-4, 200) of Tampa is a target of Clemson and USC along with several others. He began his football career at Dutch Fork before moving to Tampa after his freshman season and he hasn't forgotten his roots. Both the Tigers and Gamecocks are high up on his list. "South Carolina and Clemson, I liked them a lot when I was there," Tate said. "South Carolina throws the ball a lot and they are in the SEC, and that's appealing. Clemson's offense is very wide open and I like that a lot. They throw the ball around and are a big play team. South Carolina is one of my favorites because I'm from there. And Clemson also is up there as well." Tate is expecting coaches to scout him in May during his spring practice. He has not narrowed his list and will take more visits including USC and Clemson. He has been to South Florida, Florida State, Central Florida and Florida. He also plans to visit Miami. Tate said Kentucky and Miami have been recruiting him the hardest and he's talked the most with recruiters from those two. He has offers from Clemson, USC, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami, Penn State, Vanderbilt, South Florida, Central Florida, Nebraska, Ohio State and Kentucky. He does not have favorites at this point. Last season Tate had 48 catches for 815 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Florida State commit DB Calvin Brewton of Miami is expecting Clemson to stop by his school during spring practice. Brewton has shown interest in the Tigers and is considering a visit. Since committing to the Seminoles, contact has waned from Clemson but a positive conversation this spring could mean a visit. "I've always been interested in them," Brewton said. "I know I am committed to FSU right now but depending on what they say, I still could visit." Brewton said he remains committed to Florida State but added, "(My) recruitment is still open."
On June 6, OL Troy Thingstad (6-5 265) of Mobile, Ala., will visit USC for the first time. The Gamecocks were his first offer back in January and since then, he has picked up three more. Thingstad has added Louisville, Southern Miss and South Alabama since then and is hearing from Texas Tech and Northern Illinois. His previous visits include Alabama, Georgia Tech, South Alabama, Southern Miss and Louisville.
Highly sought after LB Roquan Smith of Montezuma, Ga., made his second visit to Clemson for the Tigers' spring game and it was another visit that worked in Clemson's favor when it comes to the hot competition for the weakside linebacker. "I spent a lot of time with the coaches," Smith said. "I like what those guys stand for. I talked mostly to coach Venables. He likes my ability and strengths and said they don't have that on their current roster and I could come in a play early. I also sat down with coach Swinney in his office. He's a great guy. I like what he stands for. He's a great, family oriented guy. And they are a top 10 defense, probably a top two in the ACC and they are going to be really good. I could fit in in the Will (linebacker) position. The weekend boosted them up a lot. It's a great school." Smith had planned to take a visit to USC this weekend but his recruiter Kirk Botkin informed he that he would be on the road recruiting so that trip has been scrapped. Smith said if he visits USC it won't be until the summer. He has also been to Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Florida State. Smith said he has no favorites right now.
DL D.J. Jones of East Mississippi JC, a former Shrine Bowler from Wren, continues to talk with USC and Clemson and is thinking strongly of both. "Choosing between those two, to tell you the truth, I couldn't. I feel comfortable about both places." One bonus item for USC is that Jones has a sister who goes to school there. He said USC and Clemson likely will get two of his official visits. He has not decided on the others. Jones recently added offers from Florida, Arizona State and Texas A&M. Some of his other offers are Alabama, Tennessee, Florida State, Ole Miss, Southern Cal, Mississippi State, Georgia and LSU. He does not have favorites at this point.
USC last week offered OL Tommy Hatton (6-2 280) of Montvale, N.J. Some of his other offers include Boston College, Maryland, Duke, Georgia Tech, Indiana and Louisville.
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