EARLY RECRUITING: This is the second story in a series focusing on college football recruiting.
By ANDREW MILLER
It’s never too early to start thinking about the future, especially when you’re talking about recruiting.
Football players in the 2013 recruiting class are still weeks away from taking their first snaps as high school seniors, but college recruiters have already turned their attention to the 2014 prospects. Clemson already has four verbal commitments for its 2014 class, including a quarterback (DeShaun Watson, Gainesville, Ga.) and two running backs (Jae’lon Oglesby, Central High School and Dalvin Cook, Miami).
Two of the best prospects in the Lowcountry will be Goose Creek running back Caleb Kinlaw and Stratford quarterback Jacob Park. Both are expected to be among the top players in South Carolina when they sign in February 2014.
Kinlaw already has offers from South Carolina, Clemson, North Carolina and Virginia Tech, while Park is projected to be among the top quarterbacks in the Southeast next fall.
“The recruiting has gotten so crazy in the last few years,” said Goose Creek coach Chuck Reedy. “South Carolina offered Caleb when he was a freshman, and the offers have been coming ever since. I’m not sure how many he has right now. I can’t keep up.”
Reedy is a veteran of the recruiting wars with two decades as a college assistant and head coach, which included stints as a head coach at Baylor and as an assistant coach with both Clemson and South Carolina. He said recruits are being closely evaluated as ninth and 10th graders.
As a sophomore, Kinlaw rushed for 1,497 yards and scored eight touchdowns in helping lead the Gators to the Division II-AAAA state title. He is the younger brother of former Penn State running back Rodney Kinlaw. Park has been a two-year starter at Stratford and threw for more than 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2011.
Rankings for the 2014 class are still eight months away, but Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said that Kinlaw and Park are expected to be heavily recruited.
“Kaleb and Jacob are just starting to make their rounds at the summer camps, so the offers are going to start to pick up pretty quickly,” Farrell said. “I’ve seen both in person and they’re both very impressive.”
Farrell said he expects Kinlaw to be a high three-star prospect, while Park will probably end up as a four-star player.
“There’s still a lot of time between now and February,” Farrell said. “There’s just not a big enough sample size to make any determination about either player. A lot will depend on what they do as juniors and seeing that film.”
Farrell said Park and Will Grier, of Davidson Day High School in North Carolina, will be among the top quarterbacks in the Southeast in 2014.
“You see Jacob in person and he’s a little bigger and has a little better arm than Will Grier,” Farrell said. “He’s a really smart player and he’s more athletic than you might think at first glance. He’s going to get a ton of offers before it’s all said and done.”
Farrell said Kinlaw’s stock could improve with a good junior season.
“Caleb’s film is fantastic,” Farrell said. “He hits the hole fast and he’s very smooth, he almost glides along and he has a good forward lean when he runs. He has good speed and can get outside. When we saw him in person, he was a little stiff. He was a little too upright when he ran, but that’s something that he can work on.”