South Carolina's recruiting efforts surged over the past week, with four more commitments, raising the Gamecocks' 2015 class total to 17.
Defensive end Quandeski Whitlow (6-4, 228) of Opelika, Ala., attended USC's camp last weekend, arriving without an offer. But he must have made a positive impression on recruiter and linebackers coach Kirk Botkin because he was offered after the camp.
And on Monday, he accepted that offer by announcing a commitment to the Gamecocks.
Whitlow, the cousin of former Kentucky quarterback Jalen Whitlow, picked the Gamecocks over Kentucky and Miami. He also considered Mississippi State.
The Gamecocks won the battle for highly coveted offensive lineman Austin Clark (6-6, 295) of Lexington, Va., Thursday night when he picked them over Virginia Tech, Tennessee and Ohio State.
Clark also visited Tennessee and Virginia Tech in the days leading up to his decision to compare and contrast those programs with USC.
Clark is the third offensive lineman to commit to USC for the 2015 class.
USC has had success in recent years recruiting and developing linebackers who were not household names in recruiting circles. The Gamecocks added another of that type Thursday in Jalen Henry (6-1, 200) of Foley, Ala.
Henry made an unofficial visit Thursday to USC with his parents, met with recruiter and linebackers coach Kirk Botkin and other members of the defensive staff, and also sat down with Steve Spurrier in his office. Before leaving, he made his pledge to join the Gamecocks' 2015 class.
Henry has 14 offers, with USC his first from an SEC school. He has not been talked about much this spring after missing most of his junior season with a broken foot.
One observer compared Henry to former USC linebacker Shaq Wilson as far as his playing skills. He has excellent speed and makes plays all over the field. He recorded 159 tackles as a sophomore.
Henry is the second linebacker commitment for USC's 2015 class.
Defensive back Antoine Wilder (5-11, 175) of Atlanta also committed to the Gamecocks on Friday after being offered at camp. Wilder is a teammate of USC defensive end commitment Arden Key and went into the camp hoping for an offer so that he could join his friend with the Gamecocks.
Wilder plays safety and corner in high school but expects to be a corner with the Gamecocks.
Last season, Wilder had 122 tackles and 2 interceptions. He's the Gamecocks' 16th commitment for the 2015 class and the second for the secondary.
In other recruiting news:
Rising junior TE JC Chalk (6-4, 225) Argyle, Texas, spent several days last week camping at Clemson, and before leaving he became the Tigers' first commitment for the 2016 class. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney already had ties to Chalk through his grandfather, Gene Stallings, who was Swinney's coach at Alabama. Chalk also has early offers from Duke, Arizona State, Colorado State and Texas A&M.
One of the state's top prospects, DE Michael Barnett (6-5, 248) of Woodland, committed Sunday to Florida State after completing a three-day camp stay. Barnett, who once was committed to Virginia Tech, also had Clemson, Georgia and N.C. State on his final short list. But throughout the recruiting process, he was leaning toward leaving the state and finding a school with his major, broadcasting. Last season, Barnett had 89 tackles with 7 sacks.
Summerville OL Zack Bailey wrapped up a busy week by stopping by USC on Friday with his grandparents after camping at Clemson earlier in the week. The USC visit coincided with the Gamecocks' first day of summer camp, but Bailey was not there to work out but rather to show his grandparents the campus and academic side of USC.
DL Albert Huggins of Orangeburg-Wilkinson was one of the top uncommitted prospects at Clemson's camp last week. Huggins is keeping a low profile from a recruiting standpoint and is not ready to tip his hand on favorites. "I'm just trying to keep an open mind and listen to all of the schools," he said. "I hope to visit Georgia in a couple of weeks and Florida later on this summer." Huggins also has USC on his list but has no plans to visit there this summer. Some of Huggins' other offers are Florida State, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisville, NC State, North Carolina, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Mississippi State and LSU.
OL Matthew Burrell of Fredericksburg, VA and DL Tim Settle of Manassas, VA were two more top prospects at Clemson's camp the end of last week. They are friends with Clemson commitment LB Chad Smith, who also is from Virginia, and they are giving Clemson strong consideration. "I can't wait to come back to tiger country with my family!! Another great visit," Burrell tweeted Sunday afternoon. Settle recently tweeted that Clemson was #1 on his list.
Another heavily recruited prospect at Clemson's camp was LB Austin Bryant of Thomasville, GA. He has the Tigers among his favorites.
Clemson last week offered DB Antonio Howard of Miami who currently is committed to Cincinnati. He camped at Florida over the weekend.
DB Cameron Ordway of Pulaski, TN has a top ten list, in no order, of Clemson, Florida State, Ole Miss, LSU, Tennessee, Alabama, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Notre Dame.
DB Damon Arnette (6-2 185) of Fort Lauderdale spent Friday at USC attending the Gamecocks' first summer camp session. Arnette flew in, worked out in the morning session, hung out around the stadium for the second session then flew back to Florida. He got plenty done on the field but not enough off of it so he will return Friday with his parents for a weekend visit. And the chance of a commitment to the Gamecocks hangs over the visit. "It went great, it went great," Arnette said of his camp workout. "I wasn't there as long as I wanted to be because of my flight so that's why I'm going back up there next week. I called them (his parents) when I got there and told them I liked it." Arnette said because of the camp he didn't get a chance to talk one on one with Steve Spurrier but that's something he plans to do next week. And he didn't rule out the possibility of a commitment, something some observers thought would happen on this first visit. He is also considering Kentucky and Ohio State. He has visited Lexington and plans to get to Columbus July 26th. "I wouldn't say I have any leaders yet," Arnette said. "I'd like to take a trip to all the schools before I made a top three. If one stands out the most and I feel like that's where I want to go, I wouldn't have a leader. I would just commit right away. Kentucky, I've seen more of the school because I was there longer. That's why I need to give South Carolina another chance. That's why I'm going back up there to see more of the school because I was at Kentucky longer than I was at South Carolina." Some of Arnette's other offers include Florida State, Indiana, Ole Miss, Duke, Louisville, Cincinnati and Wisconsin. He visited Florida State for the Seminoles' spring game.
DL DJ Jones of East Mississippi JC and Wren High School has Tennessee as his current leader. "It's because of the long term relationship I've developed with their coaching staff," Jones said. "They've been with me since high school. They've stuck with me. But they're not pulling away. I'm just making that list." Alabama is second on his updated top ten list followed by Clemson, USC, Auburn, Southern Cal, Florida State, Ole Miss, Florida and Georgia. Jones said all ten schools remain in the running. Jones visited USC and Clemson while home last month and probably will revisit when he returns home for July 4th. He visited Southern Cal over the weekend. Jones said he will take all of his official visits and right now four of those will be to Tennessee, Florida State, Auburn and Southern Cal.
DB Rashard Causey of Fort Lauderdale has been committed to Florida Atlantic since April but that hasn't stopped bigger programs from continuing to recruit him. That includes USC. "My options are all the way open," Causey said. "I'll have a top five in a week or so. I'm still looking at South Carolina, Miami, Clemson, Notre Dame, Wisconsin and North Carolina." Causey has visited Miami and he will also visit Florida State. He talked recently with USC recruiter Grady Brown and continues to get positive vibes from him. "They want me really bad," Causey said. "He's waiting on me. It's up to me to tell him I'm committing. He says I'm one of the top cornerbacks he wants in his class." Causey said there's a 50-50 chance of him flipping his commitment with USC and Miami the top possibilities. "I like everything," he said about USC. "The coaching staff, the academics. It's one of the places I have a good chance of going to." Causey said he'll make a final decision in August or September.
DB Antonio Parks of Reserve, LA is getting close on a decision but he wants to make a few more visits before he finalizes things. All signs point toward Clemson but Parks wants to make sure before his announcement. "Clemson has a great class coming in and I want to be a part of that," Parks said. "They still lead but I have Arizona at a close second. I'm visiting Clemson in two weeks and I'll get a chance to sit down with the coaches." Other schools he would like to visit this summer are Arizona, Tennessee and East Carolina.
DB Rico Merriweather Jr. of Augusta is looking for offers in South Carolina and showed off his talents this week to Clemson and USC coaches. He camped at both schools last week. Merriweather said the Tigers and Gamecocks see him as a safety. Merriweather camped at Georgia Tech last Friday and will also go to a camp at Duke. He has an offer from Michigan State and is also drawing interest from Minnesota, Indiana, Furman, Troy, Georgia Southern and Western Carolina. He would like to make a decision before the start of his season.
Two of New Jersey's top prospects, LB Manny Bowmen and WR Irvin Charles, camped at USC at the end of the week and both have the Gamecocks among their favorites.
DB Micah Abernathy of Norcross, GA remains interested in USC and plans to visit at some point. He planned to visit Georgia Friday and he also wants to Ohio State, Notre Dame and Penn State this summer.
Clemson running back target Ray-Ray McCloud of Tampa was offered last week by Auburn.
2016 WR Tavares Chase of Plant City, FL has a top eight, in no order, of Clemson, Central Florida, Miami, Florida, Auburn, Georgia, Ohio State and Kentucky.
Additional signees for Coastal Carolina: QB Aaron Aiken (6-5 235), transfer from Georgetown; OL Morgan Bailey (6-5 295), transfer from Georgia Tech; DT Jabarai Bothwell (5-11 285), transfer from Western Michigan; LB Kyle Fleetwood (50-11 225), transfer from USC; DB Keon Brown (5-11 170), Oldsmar, FL; DB Devontaye Edwards (6-1 230), Sumter; DL Tarrol Stafford (6-3 255), New Haven, CT.
6-4 Rayjon Tucker of Charlotte, who is a Clemson target, visited Virginia Tech Friday and was offered by the Hokies.
With Temple dropping its baseball program, the players are free to transfer to other programs without penalty. And Clemson is picking up one of the Owls' top performers last season. LHP Pat Krall (6-5) announced Wednesday that he had committed to Clemson. Krall made 16 appearances this season, all in relief. He was 1-0 with 2 saves and an ERA of 0.66. He struck out 12 and walked 7 in 27.1 innings of work. Krall was named the co-Rookie of the Year for the Philadelphia Big 5. The native of Dowington, PA will have three years of eligibility at Clemson.
USC signee RHP Brandon Murray, who was a 30th round pick of the Phillies, announced night he will join the Gamecocks' program. "I will officially be honoring my commitment to play baseball for the University of South Carolina," Murray tweeted. Murray was one of two Gamecock signees to be drafted. The other, INF Madison Stokes of AC Flora, was a 40th round pick by the Yankees and has already said he will enroll in school.
Clemson signee RHP Austin DeCarr signed is contract with the Yankees who picked him in the third round.
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