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Gamecocks' RB prospect says competition for playing time 'going to make us better'

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ZaQuandre White posted this photo of himself on his Instagram account after committing to South Carolina in December. Provided

South Carolina is still counting on ZaQuandre White to be a member of the football team next season.

White, who played last season at Iowa Western Junior College, has been in contact with USC head coach Will Muschamp and running backs coach Thomas Brown on a regular basis since he announced a commitment to the Gamecocks in December. The talented running back has not yet been publicly acknowledged by Muschamp with his “Spurs Up” tweet because White is finishing up some academic work, but White said he, Muschamp and Brown are all on the same page.

“Everything has been good,” White said. “I talked to coach Brown and coach Muschamp. I’m just finishing up my online classes for Iowa Western right now. He (Muschamp) didn’t want to pressure me too much. He told me just to focus on the work that I’m doing right now. I feel good, just the team sticking by my side, coming from JUCO, and giving me an opportunity, so I feel great.”

White has returned to his home in Ft. Myers, Fla., to complete three online classes. He is expecting to sign with the Gamecocks in February and report for school at the start of Summer 1 classes.

“They are getting all that academic stuff squared up with their side,” White said.

White began his college career as a linebacker at Florida State. He redshirted in 2017 and played in 10 games for the Seminoles in 2018. But he wanted to play running back and transferred to Iowa Western, where this past season he rushed for 876 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is rated by the 247Sports composite as a 4-star prospect and the No. 1 junior college running back in the country.

He also considered Tennessee and Arkansas before committing to the Gamecocks. He said Florida recently reached out to him but he feels strongly about his commitment to the Gamecocks.

“I’ve pretty much shut everything down right now, I’m just trying to focus,” White said. “I’ve got my school that’s been with me since the beginning, so I’ll probably just stick with them.”

When he gets to USC, White will be joined by 5-star running back Marshawn Lloyd, 3-star Rashad Amos, and holdovers Kevin Harris and Deshaun Fenwick. Plus, the Gamecocks continue to recruit 4-star running back Henry Parrish of Miami.

White said he and coach Brown have discussed what’s ahead for him in the competition.

“We’re just ready to get in there, I’ll be an older guy, so ready just to get in there and work,” White said. “Competition is going to make us better. At the end of the day, we’re all part of one, so I don’t think there will be any animosity among us.”

Shrine Bowl wide receiver Ger-Cari Caldwell of Northwestern has emerged as the top uncommitted prospect remaining in the state for the 2020 signing class. He’s rated a 3-star level prospect and the No. 15 recruit in the state by the 247Sports composite.

A former East Carolina commitment, Caldwell now has offers from the likes of USC, Baylor, Wake Forest, Illinois, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, N.C. State, Virginia and Duke. He said three schools have moved to the top of the list — USC, Baylor and Tennessee.

Gamecock coaches Will Muschamp, Mike Bobo, Bryan McClendon and Bobby Bentley have been in regular contact, and Caldwell said the Gamecocks are pitching him the idea of coming in and being their next big receiver, following in the footsteps of all-time leading receiver Bryan Edwards.

Caldwell has taken official visits to East Carolina, Wake Forest and Baylor. He said the Baylor visit went very well for him and he was impressed with what head coach Matt Rhule had to say to him about how he would be used in his offense. Caldwell said he will take his official visit to USC the last weekend in January, meaning the Gamecocks will get the final person-to-person visit with him prior to the February signing date. He also plans to set up a visit with Tennessee.

Bobo, USC's new offensive coordinator, has had a quick impact on the Gamecocks’ roster. Two of his former players at Colorado State, QB Collin Hill and RB Adam Prentice, plan to join him in Columbia this month as grad transfers. Prentice, a native of Fresno, Calif., redshirted the 2015 season with the Rams then missed all of 2016 with an injury and received a medical redshirt. He played in 22 games over the last three seasons, accumulating 65 rushing yards and 115 receiving yards with one touchdown. His best rushing game was 29 yards on eight carries against Utah State in 2018.

Also, a former Bobo commitment at Colorado State, CB Ennis Rakestraw of Duncanville, Texas, was offered by the Gamecocks, no doubt at the urging of Bobo.

“He recruited me when he was at Colorado State,” Rakestraw said. “I was committed there, then he left.”

Rakestraw is rated a 3-star prospect by the 247Sports composite. He helped his high school team reach the state championship game this season. Since then, his recruiting has taken off. Along with USC, he has landed offers from Georgia, Baylor, Arkansas, Michigan State, Connecticut and Kansas in recent days. He also has offers from Missouri, SMU, Washington State and others.

As for USC, Rakestraw is just starting to build the relationship.

“It has a great group of coaches and we are talking about an official visit,” said Rakestraw, who has already taken one official visit.

In various interviews this week, he has mentioned other official visits for this month to Miami, Missouri, SMU and Washington State. 

USC commitment DL Alex Huntley of Hammond, who played in the All-American Bowl on Saturday, told Rivals upon his arrival there last week he’s considering taking an official visit to Georgia this month. He also said he is still planning to sign with the Gamecocks next month. Huntley has taken an official visit to Virginia.

One-time Clemson target WR Xzavier Henderson of Miami committed to Florida on Saturday.

Gilbert QB Jy Tolen received a preferred walk-on offer from Tennessee.

Former Spring Valley CB Akele Pauling is transferring to Charleston Southern from Marshall.

Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins, a 6-5, 265-pound defensive tackle from Gaffney, will be one of the top 2021 recruits in South Carolina. He has not been rated nationally by 247Sports but has a 3-star rating and is listed No. 8 among top prospects in the state. Making an early move on him was USC. The Gamecocks were one of the first schools to offer him and he has developed a good relationship with Muschamp and defensive line coach John Scott.

“Good conversations, good relationship building with the coaches, I really like South Carolina,” Ingram-Dawkins said. “I’m building a good relationship with coach Muschamp and coach Scott. They like me being versatile on the defensive line. I can play any position. I have the size to play inside, the speed around the edge to play defensive end and the strength to play in the middle.”

Ingram-Dawkins said he grew up a Clemson fan as a youngster but has become more of a Gamecock fan as a high school player. He camped at USC and met Scott there and the two have continued to develop their relationship. He also visited USC for the Clemson game in November and is returning for an unofficial visit Jan. 18.

Ingram-Dawkins also has offers from West Virginia, Syracuse, Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina.

Brock Vandagriff, a 5-star quarterback prospect from Bogart, Ga., has decommitted from Oklahoma. He had been committed to the Sooners since June. USC has been among his offers and Clemson has been interested. At the time of his commitment, he had a top group of Clemson, Oklahoma, Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida. He also has offers from Penn State, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Florida State, LSU, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, Nebraska and others.

Former USC commitment RB Lovasea Carroll of Georgia and IMG Academy said he is back talking to USC coaches. He plans to take his official visits before making another decision.

Basketball

Clemson played host to 4-star small forward Alex Fudge (6-6, 175) of Jacksonville, Fla., for the New Year’s Eve game against Miami, and he left Littlejohn Coliseum with an offer from the Tigers. By the 247Sports composite, Fudge is ranked No. 10 in the state of Florida and 27th nationally at his position.

Some of his other offers thus far are Southern Cal, Wake Forest, TCU, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. The Clemson visit left him thinking pretty strongly about the Tigers.

“My first step onto the campus, I felt nothing but great vibes,” Fudge said. “I was greeted by the coaches and liked the facility. From the jump I saw coach (Anthony) Goins and from there he grabbed me and my family and showed us around the facility."

Fudge said he plans to set an official visit to Southern Cal, and he plans to take unofficial visits to Georgia Tech, Kansas and Virginia Tech. Last season he averaged 14 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists per game.

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