Will Muschamp’s recruiting success in the state of North Carolina has been duly noted, but Monday afternoon the South Carolina head coach hit a roadblock when defensive end Myles Murphy of Greensboro announced a commitment to UNC.
Murphy (6-6, 280) picked the Tar Heels over USC, Florida and Alabama. Murphy took official visits to each of the finalists. His trip to USC in early June was his first one and he came out of that with the Gamecocks as his favorite. But North Carolina got the final official visit the weekend before the dead period. Apparently, Mack Brown was able to convince Murphy that joining his rebuilding efforts is a better move for him that joining the more established Gamecock program.
“The love there is unreal,” Murphy told reporters following his announcement. “They love me down there. I’ve got a good relationship with all the coaches. It was a good vibe down there. It was hard, but I had to do what was best for me and make sure I get the right fit for the next four years and after that.
"South Carolina was leading at a point, they were, until I went to that official at UNC. I got the most love I’ve ever felt down there.”
Murphy also told the reporters what separated UNC from USC in his final analysis was the difference in the relationship he felt for the two coaching staffs.
“I had a good relationship, but I didn’t have a great relationship with the coaches at South Carolina,” Murphy explained. “Tim Cross at UNC was one of the best defensive line coaches I’ve ever met. He kept it real and that was one of the best parts of it. And I love Coach Brown. He kept it real and kept telling me I can follow in line with all the great defensive linemen that came here.”
With Murphy off the board, the Gamecocks still have plenty of options at defensive end headlined by Jordan Burch of Hammond. The Gamecocks also have offers out to Desmond Evans of Sanford, N.C, Jacolbe Cowan of Charlotte, Reggie Grimes of Brentwood, Tenn., and Tonka Hemingway of Conway.
The Gamecocks did receive a commitment from cornerback Joey Hunter of Tyrone, Ga., last week. Hunter chose the Gamecocks over Texas A&M, and also considered offers from Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Syracuse, Boston College and Pitt. He’s the third corner to commit to the Gamecocks for the 2020 class and their 17th overall commitment.
USC was Hunter’s lone official visit and he took that in early June. He saw enough from that trip to determine that was the right fit for him.
“The facilities and campus are beautiful,” Hunter said. “I was surprised with where it was. I thought it was going to be more like the country, but it wasn’t really rural, and I really like that. And with the coaching staff, I like that it’s a defensive-minded coaching staff."
Offensive lineman Issiah Walker of Miami last week announced a decommitment from the Gamecocks at The Opening Finals in Texas, a showcase of the nation's top high school football players.
Walker (6-4, 310) was one of the most highly regarded members of the USC 2020 class and one of five offensive linemen who had committed. He took his official visit to USC the first weekend in June, and he returned for a camp two weeks ago before the dead period.
His decommitment leaves the Gamecocks with 14 high school/junior college commitments in the class, and 16 total, including a pair of transfers from other schools.
Wide receiver Jaheim Bell of Valdosta, Ga., decommitted from Florida last week and does not yet have a clear vision of his recruiting future. Bell had been committed to the Gators since mid-April, but he never shut down his recruiting.
He took an official visit to USC in June and the Gamecocks continue to be a factor, though Bell said at this point, no one is standing out to him as he restarts the process.
“I’m not sure yet, I don’t know where I’m at right now,” Bell said.
Bell said he’s been “hearing just a little bit, not that much,” from Gamecock recruiter Bobby Bentley. “I’m pretty sure they still want me.”
Bell is a highly touted prospect who competed at The Opening Finals. He was considered one of Florida’s top commitments and his decision to decommit was not based on anything negative towards the Gators. “I just need more time to make the right decision,” Bell said. “I could end up back there, I just need more time. I’m not sure who is on top and who is not. I’m just chilling.”
Bell caught 70 passes for 800 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior.
USC running back commitment Marshawn Lloyd told 247Sports at The Opening that Georgia remains on him hard and that Georgia running backs coach Dell McGee told him he’s not concerned with his Gamecock commitment because McGee does not believe he will stick to it. Lloyd told 247Sports he remains committed to South Carolina right now “and I will see where it goes from there.”
Lloyd tweeted that he’s not planning to change his commitment despite the strong push from Georgia. “No flip. I’m a Gamecock,” Lloyd wrote. He has taken his official visit to USC and said he plans to visit Georgia for the Notre Dame game.
Clemson target tight end Arik Gilbert of Marietta, Ga., said last week that Alabama and Georgia had been recruiting him the hardest. He’s expected to visit Clemson late this month.
USC target running back Tank Bigsby of Hoganville, Ga., told reporters at The Opening he will take an official visit to Georgia for the Notre Dame game. He took official visits to USC and Auburn in June.
Another USC target at The Opening, defensive end Reggie Grimes of Brentwood, Tenn., said he has set his official visit with Tennessee for the Georgia game on Oct. 5. He has visited USC.
USC has been battling Auburn for linebacker Desmond Tisdol of Rochelle, Ga. Tisdol has said little about it publicly, but he does share insight with his coach Rob Stowe. Auburn added another linebacker commitment last week and immediately reports sprang up that the Tigers had no more room for Tisdol. That may or may not be the case according to Stowe.
“As of now, Auburn is out, but all could change tomorrow. Literally,” Stowe said. “I think he won’t commit to anybody until fall. That’s me talking. I would feel South Carolina is, as has been, in the conversation.”
Tisdol is one of the nation’s top linebacker prospects. He visited USC in January, for the spring game in April, and for an unofficial visit in June. But he’s also been to Auburn several times as well.
Conway defensive end Tonka Hemingway has two official visits under his belt this summer. He visited USC and North Carolina in June. Both visits went well and he holds each in high regard as he thinks about a decision.
Next up for Hemingway will be a return unofficial visit to Duke once the dead period ends. He also visited there in April. He has said his top three schools are USC, UNC and Duke.
Wide receiver Malik Heath of Copiah-Lincoln Junior College in Mississippi took an official visit to USC in early June. He left that visit feeling good about the Gamecocks and encouraged that Muschamp wanted him in the program. Nearly a month later, Heath still feels good about the Gamecocks and their interest in him.
“They are in my top three and everything is good with South Carolina," Heath said. "Florida and Mississippi State are also in my top three.”
At 6-3 and 210 pounds. Heath is a big receiver, along the lines of the Gamecocks’ senior star Bryan Edwards. The Gamecocks are seeking to fill that hole in the receiving corps for 2020 and that’s one of the reasons Heath is on their radar.
Punter Kai Kroeger, who landed a USC offer in June, plans a return visit to Columbia in late July. He has talked with USC recruiter Coleman Hutzler a couple of times. He plans to make his decision before his season. He has no other visits planned right now.
Defensive end Donell Harris of Miami named a top five of Clemson, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Texas A&M. He is in the 2021 class but is trying to reclassify for the 2020 class.
Offensive lineman Amarius Mims of Cochran, Ga., lists USC and Clemson among his top eight. The others are LSU, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Florida State.
Clemson and USC are in the top 10 with 2021 cornerback Kamar Wilcoxson of Lilburn, GA. The others are LSU, Tennessee, Maryland, Texas A&M, Alabama, Georgia Tech, Florida and Ohio State.
Clemson is in the top eight with 2021 center Ryan Linthicum of Damascus, Md., along with Michigan, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Ohio State, Virginia, North Carolina and LSU. He was offered last week by Florida State.
Offensive lineman Marcus Tate of Fort Lauderdale has Clemson in his top 10 along with Alabama, Oregon, Florida, Miami, LSU, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Georgia and Auburn.
Rock Hill native DJ Burns (6-9) has entered the NCAA transfer portal according to Matt Zenitz of AL.com. Burns redshirted at Vanderbilt last season. He was one of the state’s top players, originally in the 2019 class, but he reclassified for 2018 and signed with the Vols overs USC and others.
Dillon Jones (6-6) of Keenan announced last week he will play his senior season for Sunrise Academy in Wichita, Kansas.
Forward Ja’Von Benson (6-8) of Ridge View was offered by UNC Wilmington.
Raekwon Horton (6-6) of Keenan has received offers from Coastal Carolina, Charlotte, Western Carolina and Norfolk State.
Julian Phillips (6-6) of Blythewood was offered by Georgia Tech and Wichita State.
Colin Burgess of Lexington, Ky., committed to USC for the 2019 class. Burgess primarily is a catcher and he signed with Wichita State in November. But he got his release from after the Shockers fired head coach Todd Butler in late May.
Anthony Amicangelo of Johnson County (Kan.) JC committed to USC. He’s a native of Washington and a former Washington State commitment. The infielder/outfielder earned first team junior college All-American honors after hitting .492 with 6 homers and 68 RBIs. He missed most of the 2018 season after suffering a torn labrum in his shoulder.
Infielder Gavin Abrams of Metuchen, N.J., committed to Clemson.