South Carolina, Clemson target DBs

Clemson football head coach Dabo Swinney currently has 22 commitments for the 2019 recruiting class. File/Gwinn Davis/Special to The Post and Courier

Dabo Swinney did more than flip burgers at his annual All-In Cookout on Friday night. Clemson's football coach came away with five more commitments after the weekend event. The Tigers added four players to their 2019 recruiting class and one for 2020.

Wide receiver Joe Ngata of Folsom, Calif.; linebacker LaVonata Bentley of Birmingham, Alabama; defensive lineman Etinosa Reuben of Riverside, Missouri; and cornerback Andrew Booth of Lawrenceville, Ga., all became 2019 commitments. The other pledge came from linebacker Sergio Allen of Fort Valley, Georgia.

Ngata chose Clemson over Washington, Notre Dame and Southern Cal. He is ranked among the top receivers in the country. As a junior he had 81 catches for 1,777 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Bentley picked Clemson over Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Florida and others.

“They were showing me the most love,” he said of Clemson. “I would say in the beginning of June they were still leading, and we kept waiting on Miami, my favorite team, and Alabama to show me some love. But that never happened. I just knew all along that Clemson was the place for me."

Bentley also examined the Clemson roster closely and what he saw was an opening at linebacker for some early playing opportunities.

“They have four linebackers leaving after this year and three the next year and then it will be my turn to step up,” he said.

Reuben chose the Tigers over Ohio State and Wisconsin. He was making his first visit to the Clemson campus on Friday.

“When I stepped on campus, everybody felt sincere. I was immediately taken in by all of the commits and all of the coaches," Reuben said. "Me and Coach (Todd) Bates’ relationship is really tight. Me, him and Coach V talk almost every day.” Last season Reuben had 55 tackles and 5 sacks. 

Booth chose Clemson over Auburn, Georgia and several other major offers including USC, Nebraska, Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Stanford and Oregon.

The cookout was Booth's third visit to Clemson this year. He attended a junior day in January and was back for the spring game in April. 

“I got to see where they are coming from when they said the secondary is thin in spot," Booth said. "I got to see that for myself. ... The atmosphere was great. I see myself fitting in pretty good."

Last season Booth had 66 tackles and 4 interceptions. He is the 22nd commitment for Clemson's 2019 class.

Allen had 114 tackles with 13 sacks last season. He also returned an interception for a score. He’s watched the Clemson linebackers play a lot over the years and he sees the right fit for himself at inside linebacker.

“I know that Coach Venables likes to blitz and that’s something I love to do,” he said. “I’ll play anywhere he wants me to. I’m going to give it my all for whatever position I end up playing."

Some other 2019 Clemson targets at the cookout included offensive lineman Clay Webb of Oxford, Ala., linebacker Andrew Booth of Lawrenceville, Ga., and offensive lineman Cooper Dawson of Hanahan.

Dawson recently was offered by Georgia State and Vanderbilt is showing strong enough interest that an offer may be coming. He visited Georgia Southern and Central Florida in June. Dawson tore an ACL at Clemson’s camp in June and will miss his senior season.

Clemson is in the top 10 with offensive lineman Darnell Wright of Huntington, Va. The others are Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, North Carolina, Ohio State, Penn State, Southern Cal and Tennessee.

Clemson target defensive lineman Enoch Jackson will make his announcement Aug. 5. He’s down to Clemson, Texas Tech and Arkansas.

Clemson missed on defensive back Shyheim Battle of Rocky Mount, N.C. Battle committed to N.C. State.

Defensive lineman Travon Walker of Thomaston, Ga., who had Clemson and South Carolina  among his finalists, committed to Georgia.

Cornerback Cam Smith of Westwood tweeted Saturday: “For All The Reporters Asking Just Know I’m Committed.” Smith later tweeted he will answer no questions about his recruiting until he announces Aug. 17 following his team’s season opener against Lugoff-Elgin. Smith had a final three of USC, Georgia and Tennessee. He visited USC with his parents Thursday.

Defensive lineman Jaquaze Sorrells of Largo, Fla., visited USC on Thursday, his second visit with the Gamecocks. USC is one of the top schools with the former Florida commitment along with Alabama, LSU, Oregon and Florida State.

According to Hale McGranahan of TheBigSpur, defensive back Jammie Robinson visited USC last week to meet with Travaris Robinson. McGranahan reported Robinson planned to visit Auburn over the weekend.

USC target defensive back Jaydon Hill visited Florida State. He visited USC for a camp and an unofficial visit in June. Tennessee also has been one of his favorites.

Running back Michel Dukes of First Baptist is back considering basketball for college, along with football, after landing his first basketball offer from IUPUI. But, football is still first on his list and he said he hears from USC recruiters Bobby Bentley and Pat Washington about every two weeks.

He visited USC in June to watch camp and visit the campus, and he also visited East Carolina in June. He said Virginia Tech, Arkansas, Oregon, North Carolina and Georgia State are also showing a lot of interest. He plans to take an official visit to Virginia Tech for the Notre Dame game if the Hokies are still strong with him then.

Defensive end Dante Walker, who camped at USC in June, said he’s still hearing from Gamecock recruiter Mike Peterson. Walker has been strong on USC but he said he needed to improve his academics and he’s done that this summer. He also just took the ACT for a second time. He said he’s also hearing from Tennessee, Georgia and Tennessee State. Walker said USC and Tennessee are the two showing him the strongest interest.

Offensive lineman Tereis Drayton of James Island committed to The Citadel.


Porter-Gaud point guard Josiah James (6-7) will visit Duke unofficially on Aug. 11, according to Dan McDonald of Rivals. Clemson and USC are among his final nine.

Clemson offered 6-5 Dontaie Allen of Falmouth, Ken. Some other offers are Louisville, Xavier, Iowa, Oklahoma, State, Pitt, Illinois, Florida, Vanderbilt and others. He visited Clemson unofficially last month.

Former USC point guard Rah Felder, who will attend New Mexico JC this season, was offered Thursday by Iona, Arkansas-Little Rock and Nichols State.

Greg Gantt (6-8) of Fayetteville, N.C., committed to Providence. He had USC and Clemson offers.

Blythewood guard Tre Jackson was offered by Wofford, USC Upstate, Presbyterian and Gardner Webb.

USC recently offered 6-6 Terrance Williams (Class of 2020) of Washington, D.C. Some of his other offers are Marquette, Baylor, Georgetown, Illinois, Xavier, Texas A&M, N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Northwestern.