Will Muschamp’s recruiting efforts over the weekend lived up to his nickname of “Boom” as the South Carolina football coach made some major noise with five commitments, four of which have been announced.
Foremost among the commitments was defensive lineman Alex Huntley (6-4, 285) of Hammond, regarded as one of the top defensive tackles in the country. He chose USC over Georgia, LSU, Texas, Oklahoma and Stanford.
“I had a great relationship with the coaches and I think that’s the key,” Huntley said. “Nothing pulled me away from South Carolina. Everywhere I would go I would compare and contrast and everywhere I was going there was nothing to contest South Carolina. There were no red flags on South Carolina.
"Everything just pointed me there. And it’s just my home. I have so many people that I love that are here and it makes it the perfect spot.”
Last season Huntley totaled 61 tackles with 10 tackles for loss and 7 sacks.
Two more in-state commitments came from from cornerback O’Donnell Fortune (6-1, 170) of Sumter and offensive lineman Trai Jones (6-3, 270) of Abbeville. Both participated in camps last week.
The Gamecocks had been recruiting O’Donnell for several months and waited until Friday to spring the good news of an offer on him. And he wasted little time in jumping on board.
“It means a lot, it’s an honor,” Fortune said. “I’ve wanted to play for USC since I was little, so it’s an honor.”
Fortune also has offers from Syracuse, Virginia, UCF, Colorado, Kansas and others. Last season he recorded 40 tackles and his coach estimated he had 5 interceptions.
“I think he’s a rare combination for a high school kid with good height and long arms,” Sumter coach Mark Barnes said. “He has played press man, half coverage, quarters, he’s played a lot of coverages. He has great ball skills. Coach Muschamp loves to play man coverage and loves to tackle people and I think O’Donnell can do all those things."
O'Donnell also brings something else to the table, Barnes said.
"He has phenomenal ball skills. He is a punt return and kick return guy.”
O’Donnell also has played safety, but the Gamecocks see him as a cornerback. He is USC's first commitment in the 2020 class for the secondary.
Jones was not high up on Muschamp’s wish list prior to his performance in camp Saturday. But after watching Jones blaze through a 40-yard dash and excel in some other drills, Muschamp moved as fast as the big man did with an offer.
“I did pretty good at camp, had a nice 40 time (4.69) , nice shuttle time, and it grew from there,” Jones said. “Coach (Eric) Wolford and I have known each other since last summer and he kind of likes me. Coach Muschamp didn’t know me all that well and he came running over there to me. We went to his office and my parents came.
"He said I had a great day and he said I’m exactly what he needs for the team to get better. It’s my dream school ever since I was a little boy. At first, I didn’t say anything. I talked to my parents. My family are all die-hard Gamecock fans. I still can’t believe it. I believe it’s fate.”
Abbeville coach Jamie Nickles said he Gamecocks scouted Jones in the spring and that’s when they started to show interest in his big man.
“He’s really strong,” Nickles said. “He plays tackle for us and we run the outside zone so much, he does such a good job of sealing the edge.”
Jones also holds offers from Appalachian State, Army, Connecticut, Western Carolina, Furman, Coastal Carolina and others. Although he is a three-year starter at tackle for Abbeville, Jones said the Gamecocks plan to use him at guard and center.
Muschamp added another big piece for the defensive front with a commitment from tackle Makius Scott (6-4, 290) of Gainesville, Ga. USC recruiter Coleman Hutzler had been working Scott for an extended period and he brought him in for camp on Friday.
Scott also has offers from Syracuse, Memphis, Louisville, Wake Forest, East Carolina and others.
The Gamecocks are now sitting on a dozen commitments for their 2020 class, and that number will climb to 13 when the identity of the remaining commitment from the weekend is revealed. As is his routine, Muschamp tweeted five “Spurs Up” commitment alerts to his followers. The first two and last two were followed by announcements by the players.
Wide receiver Malik Heath (6-3, 210) of Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) JC and Jackson, Miss., made an official visit to USC over the weekend. Heath said the visit went very well for him and the Gamecocks are one of his three finalists at this point.
Before departing, Heath talked to Muschamp and got a good read from him on where he fits in with their plans.
“He said it would be a good fit for me because they are going to need wide receivers,” Heath said. “He said I’d have a chance to come in and play right away.”
Heath signed with Mississippi State out of high school and he has the Bulldogs and Florida in his final three with the Gamecocks. He is set for an official visit to Florida in September. Heath said he is on track to graduate in December and will have three years to play two. Last season he caught 28 passes for 333 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Offensive lineman Vershon Lee (6-3, 290) of Woodbridge, Va., made his official visit to USC over the weekend. Gamecock freshman offensive lineman Jakai Moore, who is also from Virginia, served as his host and that brought a comfort level for Lee, who has worked out in the past with Moore.
This weekend Lee will take an official visit to Pitt. He doesn’t have any other visits scheduled at this point. He continues to consider N.C. State, Wake Forest and West Virginia as well.
Wide receiver Jaheim Bell (6-3, 204) of Valdosta, Ga., made his first official visit of the recruiting process over the weekend to USC. Bell has been a Florida commitment since April but is willing to explore other options at this point. Will Muschamp was recruiting him hard before his commitment and plans to continue his efforts to flip him.
“He was telling me that he wasn’t mad that I committed to Florida,” Bell said. “He said it was something he understood as a coach. He said he’s still going to recruit me hard.” Last season Bell had 70 catches for 800 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Defensive end Reggie Grimes of Brentwood, Tenn., also took an official visit to USC over the weekend. He also visited USC in January and has the Gamecocks in his final six with Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. He has an official visit to Alabama set for Sept. 20.
USC target running back Tank Bigsby took an official visit to Auburn over the weekend. He was at USC the previous weekend for an official visit and he was at Georgia a week ago for a seven-on-seven. Bigsby does not appear close on a decision at this point.
Wide receiver Rico Powers (6-2, 181), formerly of Savannah but now in Hapesville, Ga., was among the top targets for USC on hand Saturday for a camp. He said South Carolina, Georgia, Auburn, Nebraska, Oregon, N.C. State and Tennessee are schools he’s strongly considering at this point
Cornerback Jerrold Pough (6-0, 170) of Hollywood, Fla, camped at Clemson and USC last week. Clemson has not yet offered, but USC has, along with Maryland, Tennessee, Penn State, Michigan, N.C. State, Miami, LSU, Kentucky, Louisville, Oregon and others.
Pough said he had a great camp with the Tigers and would love to be able to add them to his offer list.
“Oh, I love it,” he said. “The coaches love me. They are telling me if I come in around December I can get on the field immediately. They said to bear with them (about an offer). They showed me around campus. It’s a great environment. I love the facilities.”
From Clemson, Pough and his teammates traveled to Columbia. “They’ve been telling me I could be a good player and I would stand out here,” Pough said of his visit with USC coaches. Pough also has been to Georgia Tech and Georgia State for camps. He said he hopes to make a decision before the start of his season.
Safety Janari Dean of Batesville, Miss., cut his list to USC, Georgia, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Arkansas. He has set an official visit to USC for this weekend, and plans to make his announcement July 4.
Clemson offered tight end Sage Ennis of Tallahassee, Fla., last week. Ennis was in camp Wednesday. He also has offers from USC, Florida State, Miami, West Virginia, N.C. State, UCF, South Florida and others.
Two tight ends — Diego Lamonica of Miami and Cane Berrong of Hartwell, Ga. — also camped at Clemson last week. Neither has been offered by the Tigers. USC has offered Lamonica.
Cornerback Dominick Hill of Orlando, who took an official to USC on June 1, said the Gamecocks are still out front and the coaches know how he feels towards the program. He was hoping to get to Miami for an unofficial visit Saturday and he still plans to take an official visit to Missouri this weekend.
Clemson target wide receiver EJ Williams of Phenix City, Ala., took an official visit to LSU this past weekend. He was at Auburn unofficially the previous weekend. He will be at Clemson for camp this week. He also has Florida, Tennessee, Alabama and Oklahoma on his short list.
USC target defensive end Myles Murphy of Greensboro, N.C., took an official visit to Florida over the weekend. He visited USC the previous weekend. He is scheduled to visit Alabama this coming weekend and is considering a visit to North Carolina the following weekend.
Clemson is in the top seven with running back Daniyel Ngata of Folsom, Calif. His brother is a freshman wide receiver with the Tigers. The others on his list are Texas A&M, Penn State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Utah and Arizona State.
Linebacker Trenton Simpson of Charlotte will announce his decision Friday. He has USC and Clemson offers, and attended Clemson’s spring game, but he has been strong on North Carolina through most of the process.
Columbia native 6-6 Tevin Mack, a grad transfer from Alabama, committed to Clemson according to Jon Rothstein of CBSSports.com. Mack took an official visit to Clemson last week. He told The State over the weekend he was also looking at an official visit to Oregon this week, but that visit will not take place.
Mack starred at Dreher High School. He was strongly recruited by Clemson and USC but signed with Shaka Smart and VCU in 2015. He never played for the Rams, however. When Smart left for Texas, Mack got his release from VCU and followed Smart to Austin.
In two seasons with the Longhorns, Mack played in 48 games, starting 10. He was the team’s leading scorer over the first 15 games of the 2017 season at nearly 15 points per game, then in January he was suspended by Smart for a second time in the season for a violation of team rules, and in late February he was released from his scholarship.
Mack landed at Alabama where he sat out the 2018 season as a transfer then averaged 9 points per game last season in Avery Johnson’s final season as coach. He had a season high 25 points against Georgia. Mack shot 42% from the floor, 33% from 3, and 56% from the line.
Mack will take the final scholarship available on the roster for the 2020 season and will be one of five transfers in the program.
USC had two players in for official visits over the weekend – 6-7 Matt Cross of Brewster Academy, N.H., and 6-6 Earl Timberlake of Washington, D.C. Cross also has taken an official visit to Indiana and he’s scheduled for one to Miami this weekend. Timberlake also has visited Providence.
Gabe Wiznitzer (6-11) now has a chance to come back home for his college basketball. He grew up in Walhalla before going off to attend the Christ School in Arden, N.C.
This season he will play for Hargrave Prep, Va. Having grown up so close to Clemson, he and the staff are very familiar with one another. They took another step forward in their relationship last week when Tigers coach Brad Brownell offered Wiznitzer during an unofficial visit.
”I was really excited to get the offer,” Wiznitzer said. “I love that it’s super close to where I live and I really like the coaches. I like how they utilize their bigs and will definitely continue to build my relationship with the coaches.”
Wiznitzer is building an impressive offer sheet. Along with Clemson, he has LSU, Nebraska, Penn State, TCU, Marist, St. John’s and Iona.