South Carolina and Clemson are putting together impressive recruiting classes for 2015, but that doesn't mean the Gamecocks and Tigers don't miss on some of the players on their lists.
This past week, offensive lineman Brandon Sandifer of Warner Robins, Ga., committed to Florida over USC; defensive back Carlton Davis of Miami committed to Ohio State over USC and Miami; and defensive lineman Trenton Thompson of Albany, Ga., and wide receiver Jayson Staley of Fairburn, Ga., committed to Georgia after being recruited hard by Clemson.
South Aiken defensive end Rasool Clemons committed to Virginia, according to his coach Jeremy West. Clemons was favoring Tennessee until he visited Virginia a few weeks ago. He also had LSU and Clemson on his final short list.
Defensive lineman Albert Huggins of Orangeburg-Wilkinson is the last man standing in South Carolina this recruiting season. Huggins will be the last of the state's top prospects in the 2015 class to make a commitment.
And as he continues the process, he moves forward without USC on his list.
"I talked to USC a couple of days ago and I told them I'm not interested in USC no more," Huggins said. "It's a great school and everything, but I'm not interested like I use to be. I just don't get the vibe. I go visit schools and I get this vibe, and then I go to USC and I just don't get the same vibe."
Huggins now has six schools left on his list he's most interested in. Clemson has always been strong with him and he's visited there numerous times. He's also been to Georgia and likes the Bulldogs.
In other recruiting news:
Defensive lineman Tim Settle of Manassas, Va., will announce his decision Dec. 20. He's still considering Clemson, Virginia, Tennessee, Penn State, UCLA, Florida State and Alabama.
Offensive lineman Venzell Boulware of Fairburn, Ga., last week cut his list to Tennessee and Ohio State. He was also considering Clemson.
Defensive back Rion Davis of A.C. Flora has been sitting on an offer from N.C. State for some time and is waiting on several other ACC schools to make that call. Davis attended camps at North Carolina, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech this summer and believes that all three could offer. Davis' other offers are from Liberty, Charleston Southern and Holy Cross. He is also getting interest from Ohio and Louisville.
USC continues to work South Florida for talent, and DB JaQuan Johnson (5-11, 185) of Miami made a recent unofficial visit. It just so happens his grandmother lives in Columbia a few miles from Williams-Brice Stadium, so he was able to work in some family time as well. Johnson attended a scrimmage at the stadium, took a tour of the campus and facilities and talked with the coaches, including Steve Spurrier. Johnson said he's also considering Florida, Florida State, Miami and Louisville. He has visited the Florida schools and will visit Louisville. He also plans to make a return trip to USC for an official visit.
Saluda DL Dexter Wideman (6-4, 260), a USC 2014 signee who did not qualify for eligibility this season, will enroll at Fork Union Prep, Va., this semester with plans to enroll at USC in January, his coach said Saturday. Wideman was a Shrine Bowl performer last season who originally committed to Florida State last summer. But on National Signing Day of this year, Wideman made the switch to the Gamecocks. The Gamecocks signed Wideman with the knowledge he had academic work to do by August. According to his coach, Stewart Young, Wideman did all he could to qualify but fell just short of the requirements.
For over a year and a half, Dillon FB/LB Joe Blue remained committed to USC. But earlier this month, his attempts to enroll were twice rebuffed by the school. After visiting Coastal Carolina and considering S.C. State, Blue opted to enroll at Georgia Prep in Atlanta. He has already reported for practice and will play linebacker. Blue will have the chance to play in the Columbia area when the Lions take on Gray College Prep in Lexington on Sept. 7. Blue said his plan is to attend Georgia Prep for one semester and then resign with a Division I program. And it won't necessarily be USC. "I don't know yet," Blue said. "I'm looking around." Blue said he hasn't talked with any USC coaches lately. And he doesn't have his eyes set on specific teams at this point. "I'm just waiting to see what comes thru," he said. So far, Blue said, no other major schools have reached out to him.
USC made the cut last week to the final six with 2016 QB Brandon McIlwain (6-1, 210) of Newtown, Pa. Joining the Gamecocks on the short list are Penn State, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Duke and Florida. "I've been talking to the coaches at South Carolina since my freshman year, so I have a great relationship with the coaches there," McIlwain said. "My dad went there and my grandmother lives 10 minutes away (in Irmo). It's a place that really feels like home for me. I've visited there multiple times and it's a really great place. Great facilities. Great stadium. The game atmosphere was amazing. All that put together just made it feel like a place where I can really see myself being." McIlwain is a threat as a passer and runner and feels is similar in playing style to former Gamecocks star Connor Shaw. "We also run the spread in my school, so I can see myself fitting in with that offense," McIlwain said. "(Coach Mangus) has made it clear that I'm his top guy." McIlwain has visited all six of his schools and he said it's even between them. He plans to visit all six again during the season and is looking at USC's game against Georgia as his possible visit date to Columbia. After these visits he will get down to making his decision and wants to get that down between December and early spring. "I want to make my decision as soon as I can because I do want to help whatever school I commit to help them recruit," McIlwain said. "Then, I don't want to rush it and make a decision that I could possibly regret. I'm going to make sure the time is right but do it as soon as I can after my season." Last season, McIlwain passed for 1,446 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 600 yards and 10 touchdowns.
USC is among the early leaders for DB John Broussard (6-0 170) of Phenix City, Ala. He named USC, Auburn, FSU, LSU, Georgia, Kentucky and Penn State as his top six, in no order. Broussard holds 18 offers right now and has given USC an edge on many of the schools showing interest. "I visited a couple of weeks ago and I loved their facilities," he said. "I really liked the coaches and they told me I'm a top priority." Broussard has only visited a handful of schools and does not plan to take any future visits until after the season. One of those could be to Clemson. "They're recruiting one of my teammates pretty hard, so I'll probably go there with him." His offers include USC, Clemson, LSU, Georgia, Kentucky, Penn State, Louisville, Mississippi State, Florida State, Southern Miss and Nebraska. Broussard attended camps at Florida State and Alabama this summer and visited USC and Auburn.
DL Derrick Brown (6-3, 293) of Lanier, Ga., is one of his state's top-ranked player for the 2016 class and has compiled an impressive offer list, including Clemson and USC. The Gamecocks and Tigers join Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin as some of the programs that have offered the rising junior. Brown has taken several visits this summer, including Clemson, Auburn, Alabama, Miami, Mississippi State, Georgia and Wake Forest. "I went to Clemson about a month ago," he said. "I like it there because it's a small town. Clemson is the town. Their coaches are really cool and are telling me they really want me to come there." He has no early favorites and wants to be patient with the process. "I'm looking for the school that fits me best," Brown said. "The one that feels right." Brown has not visited USC but plans to get to a game this season. The earliest a commitment could be expected would be sometime next summer but could come as late as National Signing Day. He does not have any favorites.
USC is the only offer on the board right now for DE Javon Kinlaw (6-7, 260) of Goose Creek, and that has the Gamecocks in the lead position for him. But he also likes Clemson, Florida State and Tennessee. "It's a close school and it feels like home," Kinlaw said of USC. Kinlaw didn't make any camps this summer and hopes to be at USC for the season opener. But he's not thinking about making an early commitment. Last season, Kinlaw had 50 tackles and 4 sacks. He also plays offensive tackle and tight end but wants to play defensive end in college.
Junior QB Drayton Arnold (6-0, 182) of Myrtle Beach has an offer from Ohio and is drawing early interest from Clemson, Duke, Wake Forest, N.C. State and Charlotte. The offer has Ohio among his early favorites along with Duke. Clemson also is showing considerable interest in Arnold and he believes an offer is possible. His plans are to visit Clemson, Duke, Ohio, Charlotte and Wake Forest this season. As a sophomore, Arnold threw for over 2,700 yards while rushing for over 600. He tossed 32 touchdowns passes with 10 interceptions leading his squad to a state title.
Tevin Mack of Dreher, his mother and his brother made a visit to USC on Thursday afternoon and sat down with Gamecocks basketball coach Frank Martin, and during that meeting Martin made Mack (6-5) an official offer. Martin had indicated to Mack for some time that an offer would be made, but he was nonetheless relieved when it was made official. "I was a little excited," Mack said. "It was a long time coming, so I was pretty excited about it. They told me before I was going to get it, they just didn't say when, so I was kind of expecting it." Mack has cut his list to Clemson, USC, Georgia, VCU, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State and Oklahoma State. He has not yet set dates for official visits but he plans to take trips to Clemson, USC, VCU and Georgia. If he hasn't made a decision by the time he visits those four, he'll take a fifth visit. Mack said all the schools on his list are staying in regular contact and he doesn't have an order to the schools no a leader. "I'm trying to figure out where I can go and play right away," Mack said. "I've got portfolios on every school and I know their players and who they've offered and who they are recruiting because I did a lot of research on that and I know where I can come in and fit in right away." USC has the hometown advantage over the others, but that can be a double-edged sword for the Gamecocks because Mack can see everything up close that goes on in the program, both good and bad. "I always have to consider the hometown school, but it's not an advantage for them," Mack said. "I grew up in Columbia and that's always important, but I wouldn't say it's an advantage." Perhaps the most important part of the visit for the Gamecocks was that Mack's mother had the chance to meet Martin for the first time. "I think she changed her outlook on him," Mack said. "The media makes him out to be a bad guy, but he's actually a real good guy. She likes him actually." Mack plans to sign in November.
6-8 Chris Silva of Gabon, Africa, who attends prep school in New Jersey, announced his final five schools of USC, Kansas State, Villanova, Rhode Island and Seton Hall on Sunday. He will take official visits to those five and then make his decision.
7-5 center Tacko Fall of Tavares, Fla., announced a top eight of Wake Forest, Georgetown, Florida State, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Georgia Tech, Florida and Stanford. Clemson also was one of his offers.
RHP/3B junior Kris Kuhn (6-1, 165) of Pinewood Prep Saturday announced a commitment to Clemson. He also had offers from USC, Furman and College of Charleston. Kuhn is the Tigers' fourth commitment for the 2016 class. Last season, Kuhn was 6-2 with a 1.50 ERA. Reports on him are he has a good fastball and changeup with great command.
Also last week, USC gained a commitment for the 2017 class from LHP Chase Williamson (6-1 190) of Lexington. As a freshman last season, Williamson was 0-1 but had 10 strikeouts in 8 innings of work. He is USC's second commitment for the 2017 class.