Post and Courier
October 22, 2014

Gamecocks land three commitments

Posted: 06/23/2014 02:01 p.m.
Updated: 06/23/2014 11:02 p.m.


By Phil Kornblut



South Carolina enjoyed a hot recruiting day on Monday by landing three commitments to its 2015 class.

A strong showing at football camp earned Jaire Alexander an offer from South Carolina over the weekend, and the 5-11, 170-pound defensive back from Charlotte committed to the Gamecocks on Monday.

Alexander had been committed to Charlotte before attending USC's camp earlier this month. Gamecock secondary coach Grady Brown, who had checked on Alexander in the spring, liked what he saw in person and made the offer.

Alexander returned to Columbia with his parents for a visit Saturday and that was enough to convince him to accept the offer. He also considered Connecticut, Louisville and Kansas State.

"I liked the sense of urgency, the way coach Brown offered me after the camp means he liked what he had seen," Alexander said. "I think I can play early and play big-time football."

Alexander played cornerback last season for the first time. He had 48 tackles, seven interceptions and 13 pass deflections.

"Going from Conference USA to SEC football is a no-brainer," Alexander said. "That was really important. Going to the NFL is important and the SEC can put me in the best position for that."

South Carolina gained its second commitment of the day Monday night from ATH Octavis Johnson (6-0, 183) of Homerville, Ga.

Johnson, who revealed his commitment on Twitter, could eventually join Alexander in the Gamecock secondary.

As recently as last week Johnson had declared Tennessee as his favorite. He made the statement shortly after a visit to Knoxville. Johnson also had offers from Clemson, Auburn, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Florida State, Missouri and Texas A&M.

He narrowed his list to USC, Clemson and Tennessee before announcing for the Gamecocks.

Carrying the athlete label, Johnson is considered someone who can play several positions, but his coach says he wants to play cornerback at USC and that's what they recruited him for.

"The wide receiver coach wants him to think about playing on the other side but he wants to play cornerback," Clinch County assistant coach Rance Morgan said.

USC landed a third commitment late Monday, this one from tight end Connor Redmond (6-4, 230) of Decatur, Ga.

Redmond's commitment gives the Gamecocks 20 for their 2015 class. Redmond visited USC in April, and the Gamecocks moved to the top of his list after that.

"It's not too far from home but far enough to be away from home," Redmond said. "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 caught 37 passes for 400 yards and six touchdowns last season.

Some of Redmond's other offers included Boston College, Virginia, Kansas State, Louisville, Memphis and Purdue.

In other recruiting news:

Another defensive back, Damon Arnette of Fort Lauderdale, also spent the weekend at USC. He attended USC's camp earlier this month and brought his parents back for a closer look.

"It went great," Arnette said of this visit to USC. "I love their system and I think it's a perfect fit for me." Arnette is basically down to the Gamecocks, Kentucky and Ohio State.  He also has visited Kentucky and is scheduled to visit Ohio State next month.

"I plan on committing very soon, maybe sometime this week," Arnette said,  "I'm only considering three schools - USC, Kentucky and Ohio State."

Also visiting USC late in the week were defensive back Jalen Thompson of Mobile, Ala., running back Ty'Son Williams of Crestwood, running back Bradrick Shaw of Hoover, Ala., and offensive lineman Jalen Merrick of New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

Defensive lineman Albert Huggins of Orangeburg-Wilkinson continues to move at a deliberate pace with his recruiting, and he can do this knowing full well one of his favorites is filling up at his position. Huggins spent a few days at Clemson this month while the camps were going on. 

Clemson recently offered DB Brian Dawkins Jr. (5-7, 158) of Parker, Colo., the son of the former Clemson and NFL star safety. Dawkins Jr. attended Clemson's camp this month and that's when the offer was made.  It's his first, though he's also drawing the interest of Washington, Colorado, Colorado State, Wyoming, Utah State and Washington State. The younger Dawkins certainly loves Clemson and was thrilled by the offer, but he's not ready to follow his father's trail just yet. "I've been praying with my family," he said.  "It's one step at a time.  I'm not rushing anything. I'll pray about it and leave my options open.  I want to evaluate the school more."

Dawkins added that no one on the staff was bothered when a commitment didn't come right away. "They told me to take my time and go ahead and pray about it.  They said take it one step at a time and don't rush it, but the opportunity is there.  They are definitely high on my list because of how familiar I am with the people." Dawkins said he will attend camps at Wyoming and Northern Colorado in the coming weeks. Last season he had 40 tackles and six interceptions.  He also plays receiver.

DE Marques Ford (6-3, 222) of Gibsonton, Fla., has his list down to Clemson, Duke, Rutgers, Central Florida, Tennessee and Miami. His next goal is to narrow his list to three. Ford has visited Rutgers, Duke and Penn State. He did not name a leader.

DE Trevon Hill of Virginia Beach, Va., visited North Carolina over the weekend and will visit Virginia this week. He also said he would like to visit Notre Dame and Florida State before the season begins. And he plans to take an official visit to Clemson this fall.

DE Marquavius Lewis of Hutchinson JC in Kansas hasn't seen much change with his recruiting of late.  He feels USC and Auburn are recruiting him the hardest. The Greenwood native recently made an official visit to Arizona State.  Lewis visited USC and Auburn unofficially when he was home last month and he plans to take some more official visits.  He does not have a favorite and won't make his decision until the season. Oregon and Kentucky are two new schools to start talking with Lewis, but they have not offered.

Florida Atlantic commit RB Jordan Scarlett of Fort Lauderdale will try to visit USC within the next couple of weeks. Scarlett also plans to take an official visit to USC in the fall. Scarlett said the Gamecocks have a good chance of getting a future commitment from him. "It's an SEC school and that raises the bar," he said. "You get to compete against the best." Scarlett also is close friends with Gamecock linebacker Skai Moore. Ohio State is the only other school Scarlett plans to visit in the future.

WR Darius Slayton of Norcross, Ga., made it to USC for camp this month and said the Gamecocks are moving up his list. "I will say this . I like South Carolina more (after the visit) than I did." His other visit this summer has been to Florida. Slayton has not scheduled any other visits for this summer but does plan to take another trip or two prior to football season. Others on his short list are Clemson, Georgia, Auburn, LSU, Ohio State, Alabama and Tennessee.

Clemson has offered ATH Jaason Lewis (6-4 240) of Virginia Beach, Va. He's a former UCLA commitment.

DE Darian Roseboro of Lincolnton, N.C., plans to visit USC this week.  He has the Gamecocks among this final 11 schools as well as Clemson and plans to make a decision the first week of school.

LB Manny Bowen of Barnegat, N.J., committed to Penn State Saturday after a visit. He also had offers from USC and Clemson.

USC OL target Emanuel McGirt of Durham committed to North Carolina. The Gamecocks were in his final four.

2016 OL Greg Little of Allen, Texas, the son of former USC LB Derrick Little, committed to Texas A&M. He was just offered by the Gamecocks last week.

2016 DE Jacob Nelson (6-2 235) of Ware Shoals had 108 tackles and 15 sacks last season.  He's drawing early interest from The Citadel, Presbyterian, North Greenville, Elon and Georgia Southern.

USC 2014 recruit DE Jhaustin Thomas of Atlanta and Trinity Valley JC in Texas will not have the grades to be able to enroll at USC this fall, his former high school coach confirmed last week. Thomas originally signed with the Gamecocks in 2012 but did not qualify for freshman eligibility. 

The Gamecocks continue to wait on the qualifying status of DL Dexter Wideman of Saluda.  His coach said earlier this week they are waiting on a final test score to come back and it should be about three weeks before they know the result.

The Gamecocks did get good news on LB/FB Joe Blue of Dillon. According to Wildcats coach Jackie Hayes, Blue recently got the news he was fully qualified.  The news came too late for him to enroll for the first session of summer school so he will be enrolling on July 2.

Lake Marion football and basketball prospect De'Riante Jenkins has transferred to a school in Oldsmar, Fla.