The Greenwood High School program has proven once again to be good to the South Carolina football program, though in a roundabout way this time.
Former Greenwood teammates Marquavius Lewis, a 6-4, 270-pound defensive end, and Da'von Durant, a 6-2, 235-pound linebacker, committed to the Gamecocks on Sunday. Lewis currently attends Hutchinson (Kan.) Junior College and Durant is at Butler (Kan.) Junior College. Both are regarded among the best at their positions in the junior college ranks.
The pair was together over the weekend at USC for the Gamecock Showcase Camp with Lewis on an official visit and Durant visiting unofficially. The fact they committed together was just happenstance, Lewis said.
Lewis had also taken official visits to Miami and Arizona State and was talking with Alabama and Florida, but had narrowed his focus to USC and Auburn. Several members of his family joined him on the visit, and the family pull was big in his decision.
"Just the family and the vibe they have around South Carolina," Lewis said. "It feels pretty good and is the right thing for me and especially for my family, though they would have supported me no matter what."
JT Surratt served as Lewis' host player on the visit and he spent time with defensive coaches Lorenzo Ward and Deke Adams. Last season, Lewis recorded 60 tackles with 17 for loss, 13 quarterback hurries and 6˝ sacks. He is on track to graduate in December and will have two years to play two.
Durant was the more highly regarded of the two coming out of high school. He was a Shrine Bowler and had multiple major offers, but he was always a strong lean to the Gamecocks going back to his days at Greenwood.
"It feels good; a lot of pressure has been taken off me now," said Durant, who had wanted to commit in the spring but held off while working on his grades to get to where he would have a chance to enroll at mid-term. "I feel more relaxed and I can concentrate on my schoolwork going into the season. It's going great and I'll be finishing on time in December and enroll in January."
Durant played in seven games last season, recording 12 tackles and 3 sacks on a defense that allowed just over 11 points per game.
These commitments give the Gamecocks 26 for the class, including at least three carryovers from the 2014 class - DL Dexter Wideman, DE Dante Sawyer and DB Darin Smalls. Smalls has yet to retake the ACT, so at best he will be a grayshirt; at worst he will go to a prep school for a semester.
Defensive back signees Wesley Green and Chris Lammons get their scores back Tuesday. The university admissions committee meets Wednesday, so their fates will be determined then.
In other recruiting news:
ATH Kyle Davis (6-3, 220) of Lawrenceville, Ga., who is considered one of Georgia's top prospects for the 2016 class, also committed to USC while attending the Gamecock Showcase Camp to become USC's first commitment for the 2016 class. Davis is a teammate of USC 2015 commitment Connor Redmond but he had no plans going into the camp of joining him as a Gamecock.
"I had no idea. It just came to me," he said. "I talked to my dad and he said, 'Go ahead, you've got the green light.' It was my decision. I'm proud of it."
Davis will be a wide receiver with the Gamecocks. He has also visited Georgia, Auburn and Vanderbilt but said his commitment is "solid."
Two of USC's top running back targets, Ty'son Williams of Crestwood and Johnny Frasier of Princeton, N.C., did not make it to the camp Saturday, but a third, Mon Denson (5-11, 214) of LaGrange, Ga., did attend. He was handed a scholarship offer after working out for the coaches, and said he now favors the Gamecocks.
"I'm excited about it," Denson said Saturday night. "They just wanted to see me move in person. They are in my top five and they are my favorite."
Also on Denson's list are North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
Williams has the Gamecocks in his final three along with Georgia and North Carolina. He sees the chance of early playing time at USC appealing.
"At least one of the two freshmen will have to suit up and play. It's a good opportunity for early playing time."
Williams has said he would announce a decision in early August.
Frasier rushed for over 3,000 yards and scored 55 touchdowns last season. He has visited Florida State, Georgia, N.C. State and North Carolina and has camped at Duke. Michigan has also been a factor. Right now, Florida State would be the team to beat, according to his coach.
DB Carlton Davis of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was a no-show Saturday but is expected to visit this weekend. He was at Ohio State on Friday. Davis has six schools left on his list: USC, Ohio State, Miami, Florida, Alabama and Notre Dame.
The Gamecocks had three offensive line targets at the camp in Christian Pellage of Brooksville, Fla., Brandon Sandifer of Warner Robins, Ga., and Nathan Gilliam of Knoxville, Tenn. Each has USC on their short list and is close on making a decision.
Pellage is also looking hard at Florida State and plans to narrow his list to five or six soon. Sandifer has USC, Alabama and Florida as his top three in no order. He was at Florida on Friday. And Gilliam also has Wake Forest and Kentucky on his short list.
WR Auden Tate of Tampa, Fla., also attended Saturday's camp. Tate is originally from Irmo and combined a visit with family with his stopover at USC. He has also camped at Maryland this summer. Clemson also is on his list along with Florida State, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Miami, Missouri and Mississippi. He wants to take his official visits before making a decision.
WR Traveon Samuel of Phenix City, Ala., also took part in USC's camp. The speedy Samuel plays running back in high school, but the Gamecocks like him as a slot receiver along the lines of Ace Sanders. Samuel has a top three of USC, Auburn and Florida State in no order from a list of 40 offers. Right now Samuel doesn't plan to make a commitment until December.
OL Jalen Merrick of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., is getting close on a decision but he has not identified a date for an announcement. He is down to USC, Florida, Florida State and Miami. Merrick visited USC in June.
OL Venzell Boulware of Fairburn, Ga., has cut his list to Clemson, Ohio State and Tennessee. His teammate, WR Jayson Stanley, released a top five of Clemson, Georgia, Auburn, Oregon and Miami.
OL Zack Bailey of Summerville plans to visit North Carolina on Tuesday. USC, Clemson and Georgia have been his top three.
DB Micah Abernathy of Norcross, Ga., has trimmed his list to Georgia, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State and Tennessee. USC also offered him.
OL Matt Womack of Hernando, Miss., a USC target, announced a commitment to LSU last week.
WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside of Dorman could have an announcement very soon. He visited Michigan State and Stanford last week. He also has seen Wake Forest, Maryland, Georgia Tech and Virginia. Arcega-Whiteside does have a leader but is not ready to divulge that school.
Clemson signee RB Jae'lon Oglesby of Daniel has failed to qualify for freshman eligibility this season and will enroll at Fork Union Prep in Virginia, his coach said last week. He is Clemson's only non-qualifier in the 2014 class. Oglesby's deletion from the class opened a spot and it will be filled by RB CJ Fuller of Easley, who originally was slated for a grayshirt.
Three other Clemson signees will be grayshirted: LB Judah Davis, LB JD Davis and LB Jalen Williams.
Oklahoma State is the latest big time program to make an offer to 6-5 Tevin Mack of Dreher, who has seen his recruiting value rise with a strong showing this month at camps and tournaments. Some of his more recent offers include Auburn, VCU, Wake Forest, East Carolina and Mississippi State.
"I knew going into it I was going to have to play good to get some more offers," Mack said. "I just started playing harder and I think I'm doing a pretty good job of playing harder and being a leader. I think I led my team pretty well. We were undermanned because Seventh (Woods) is hurt now (wrist), so I had to play point guard, a position I don't normally play. So I just jumped up to be more of a leader. That's the best thing I did."
Mack said it's pleasing to him to receive the new offers, evidence that his hard work is paying off. Clemson has been one of his longtime offers and he was in touch with the Tigers last week. He's also in touch with USC, and though the Gamecocks have not yet offered, he's optimistic they will.
"I talk to those guys a lot. I talked to coach (Frank) Martin the other day. We have a good understanding. I talk to those guys a lot."
Mack said he plans to visit Clemson and USC again this summer and he also plans to visit Wake Forest in August. As for a decision timeframe, Mack doesn't plan to sign in November and wants to make his decision between December and February. He does not have a favorite.
Clemson has offered 7-5 Tacko Fall of Tavares, Fla. Some of his other reported offers are Florida State, Baylor, Kansas State, Purdue and Tennessee.