South Carolina new helmet logo (copy)

South Carolina added efensive lineman Tonka Hemingway of Conway and tight end Eric Shaw, of Notasulga, Ala., File/USC/Provided

The next major in-state football prospect to announce his college commitment will be Conway High School defensive tackle Tonka Hemingway.

Hemingway (6-3, 260) has set Thursday at 3:30 p.m. for his announcement. His three finalists are South Carolina, Duke and North Carolina. He also received offers from Clemson, Maryland, N.C. State, Georgia, Alabama, Ole Miss, Louisville and Vanderbilt.

Hemingway, whose brother Junior Hemingway played at Michigan and then in the NFL, took official visits to USC and North Carolina in June. He also visited UNC unofficially in June, and he made unofficial visits to USC and Duke in the spring. After his official visit to USC, Hemingway said the Gamecocks “are in a good place” with him. “I know how they feel about me.”

Another USC target, safety Ja’Qurious Conley of Jacksonville, N.C., will announce his commitment on Thursday. Conley will choose between the Gamecocks, UNC, Duke and Virginia Tech. He has an official visit to USC set for Sept. 14 and has already made two unofficial visits to Columbia this year.

His most recent visit was to North Carolina, and the Tar Heels apparently made a big impression on him during that visit.

Tank Bigsby, a running back from Hoganville, Ga., on Friday announced a commitment to Auburn over USC, Georgia and LSU. Bigsby made numerous visits to USC over the spring and summer, including an overnight stay with his mother.

The Gamecocks were recruiting him to come in as their primary ballcarrier and, based on numerous reports, looked like the front-runner. Then they landed a commitment from an equally highly regarded back in Marshawn Lloyd. That commitment appears to have impacted Bigsby's feelings toward USC.

Wide receiver EJ Williams of Phenix City, Ala., has set Aug. 24 to announce his commitment. His final four are Clemson, Auburn, Alabama and LSU.

Williams continues to hear from all the schools and said there’s really nothing else he can learn from the phone calls. He said he should have his mind made up this week.

“Basically he (Clemson recruiter Jeff Scott) just called to check up on me and see how I was doing,” Williams said. “No one needs to show me anything else. I’ve seen what I need to see. It will be a decision based on what I think.”

Williams said he is consulting with his mother regarding his decision. Of his finalists, he has been to Clemson the most, including a June camp and a return visit later in the month for the All-In Cookout. He said he enjoyed that weekend but there wasn’t much more Clemson could do or say to advance its position with him.

“I already had a pretty good bond with all the coaches and the players there,” he said.

All four schools remain in the running, Williams said, and his decision will be based on a couple of factors: “Having the opportunity to get on the field early, and having a great relationship with the coaches.”

Clemson has landed two commitments out of Phenix City Central in the last two classes in Justyn Ross and Ray Thornton, but Auburn has a commitment from Williams’ current teammate, offensive lineman Javion Cohen.

Cornerback Jahquez Robinson of Jacksonville, Fla., was scheduled for an official visit to USC in July but that trip was scratched. Robinson and the Gamecocks continue to communicate and the plan now is for him to take his official visit the weekend of the Alabama game.

Robinson has been committed to the Crimson Tide since February. Along with USC and Alabama, Robinson said he’s looking at Texas, Oregon, Michigan and North Carolina for official visits.

All face an uphill battle in pulling him away from Nick Saban.

“I feel like I’m 100 percent locked in but I’m still listening to the other coaches and what they have to say,” Robinson said. “They told me I’m the top DB on their board. They show me a lot of love.”

Wide receiver Rico Powers of Hapeville, Ga., camped at USC in June and worked closely with receivers coach and offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon. He has built a good relationship with McClendon and area recruiter Mike Peterson, and he considers the Gamecocks as one of the schools at the top of his list.

“They want me there, so we just keep building our relationship and getting to know each other,” Powers said. “They are up there. I like South Carolina. They are in pretty good shape. I should be taking an official visit there this fall.”

In May, Powers named a top five of USC, Auburn, Georgia, Oregon and Nebraska. But he recently said USC, Oregon and N.C. State were the three standing out the most to him because of how hard they have been recruiting him. Last season, Powers had 17 catches for 552 yards and six touchdowns. He played mostly in the slot as a junior, but at his new school he expects to play outside and see his numbers go up.

Offensive lineman Byron Floyd (6-1, 250) of Mentor, Ohio, doubles as a long-snapper. It’s that particular skill that has grabbed Clemson’s attention.

Floyd comes highly recommended by Rubio Long-Snapping and earned their highest rating this spring. Floyd displayed his skills at camps this summer, including Clemson, and the Tigers liked him enough to offer him a preferred walk-on opportunity. That’s an offer he is considering.

“I’ve been to Clemson three times,” Floyd said. “First time was at the elite junior day in March. That was an incredible experience. I went back for the spring game. It was awesome to get an idea of what a game day might be like.”

Floyd also visited Miami of Ohio and has an offer from Toledo.

Basketball 

USC landed its first basketball commitment for the 2020 class last week when 6-10, 235-pound power forward Patrick Iriel of AC Flora in Columbia announced a commitment to Frank Martin.

Iriel is a player who saw his stock start to rise in his junior season and continue to grow in the spring and summer. He said the Gamecocks offered him in late July and that made his decision simple.

“They’ve been with me since the 9th grade and I’ve been impressed with them,” Iriel said. “Our relationship started to pick up in my junior year and this summer I started talking with Frank a lot. It just really felt right, it’s right at home and I was just really excited about the opportunity and I wanted to take it.”

Last season, Iriel averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds per game. He also had offers from Southern Cal, Wofford, Georgia Tech and Cincinnati.

Dorman point guard Myles Tate committed to Butler last week coming off an official visit to the school. He had narrowed his decision to Butler, USC, College of Charleston, Pitt, Appalachian State and Ole Miss. 

Noah Collier (6-7) of Norristown, Pa., has Clemson in his final three schools along with Pitt and Cal. According to Stockrisers, he will take official visits to all three schools over the next six weeks.

Ja’Von Benson (6-8) of Ridge View told The State he has set official visits to the College of Charleston for Aug. 29 and to USC for Sept. 7. He has offers from both along with Ohio, Indiana State, UNC-Wilmington, Upstate, Winthrop, Murray State, Georgia Southern, Presbyterian and South Carolina State.

Obinna Anochili-Killen (6-9) of Chapmanville, Ga., plans to set an official visit with USC and several other schools. He talked with Gamecock recruiter Chuck Martin earlier this month. He said he’s also heard from Georgia.

We're improving out commenting experience.

We’ve temporarily removed comments from articles while we work on a new and better commenting experience. In the meantime, subscribers are encouraged to join the conversation at our Post and Courier Subscribers group on Facebook.