The book has closed on the 2020 football recruiting season, with one major exception.
Five-star running back Zach Evans of Houston remains uncommitted, and his decision could affect the final team rankings for 2020. For now, Georgia is the recruiting champion for the 2020 class, according to the 247Sports composite ranking. The Bulldogs once had Evans in the fold. He actually signed a letter-of-intent with them, but he was released from that in December.
Georgia still signed four 5-star and 15 4-star prospects. Alabama finished second to Georgia and Clemson third.
The Tigers were ranked No. 1 following the December signing period but did not add anyone new to the class last week. Clemson leads the composite with five 5-star signees out of their 24 signees. Twelve of the Tigers' recruits are ranked 4-star players.
Rounding out the top 10 in the recruiting rankings are LSU, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Auburn, Florida, Texas and Tennessee.
South Carolina finished 18th in the composite ranking after adding 5-star defensive lineman Jordan Burch of Hammond. Burch was the lone 5-star recruit for the Gamecocks, who had eight 4-star prospects among the 22 new recruits.
Clemson’s No. 3 ranking is the highest ever for the Tigers in the 247Sports composite, and its their third straight top 10 class. For USC, the No. 18 ranking is the second top 20 for the Gamecocks in the last four years. Both rankings were No. 18.
Clemson was by far and away the highest rated of the ACC classes. The next closest was Miami at No. 13. North Carolina was ranked 19th and Florida State 22nd.
Seven of USC’s opponents in 2020 were ranked in the top 10: Georgia, Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Texas A&M, Florida and Tennessee.
Three-star South Aiken tight end Jesse Sanders (6-4, 200) is headed to USC as a preferred walk-on. Sanders played some quarterback in high school. Tennessee also offered him a PWO opportunity, and he had been in conversation with Clemson as well. He had offers from Coastal Carolina, Georgia State, Army, Akron and Mercer. Last season Sanders had 22 catches for 347 yards and one touchdown.
Cardinal Newman offensive lineman James Reedy and Blythewood running back Brandon Edwards also are going to USC as invited walk-ons.
Defensive end Kelvin Gilliam (6-3, 250) of Highland Springs, Va., has a long history with USC and this spring he plans to visit for the first time. The Gamecocks recently offered him, joining other major programs such as Michigan, Michigan State, West Virginia, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Duke and Tennessee.
“I’ve been talking to South Carolina since my 10th-grade year,” Gilliam said. “Coach (Kyle) Krantz has always wanted me to come up there and see the campus. The entire staff reviewed my film and they were very impressed, they were blown away, and so they offered me.”
Along with USC, Gilliam said his strongest interest has been coming from Oklahoma, Penn State, Michigan, Tennessee and West Virginia. He visited Penn State and Michigan in January and plans to see Oklahoma this spring. Gilliam carries a 4-star rating in the 247Sports composite. He’s ranked as the No. 12 weakside defensive end nationally and the No. 5 prospect in Virginia.
Five-star running back Will Shipley of Matthews, N.C., is one of the most talented athletes in the country in the 2021 class. This past season he rushed for 2,066 yards and 30 touchdowns and had 34 catches for 582 yards and 8 touchdowns.
He’s rated the No. 1 all-purpose back in the country in the 247 composite. Clemson is one of the schools he’s focused on and he visited there late last month.
“It was a great visit. I got the chance to see more of the campus than I have in the past,” Shipley said. “We were able to take a tour and see what Clemson is like when it isn’t a game or camp."
Shipley also visited Duke and N.C. State in January. During the season he got to games at Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Notre Dame, North Carolina and N.C. State. This spring he plans to see Notre Dame, Ohio State, Georgia and Stanford. His most recent visit to Clemson left him with a very positive feeling for the program.
“That is somewhere I can see myself playing,” Shipley said. “There is a great family atmosphere there. I can see myself playing there for sure.”
Wide receiver Ahmari Huggins-Bruce of Dillon emerged as a major prospect in 2019 as he helped lead the Wildcats to another championship game. He had 50 catches for 1,003 yards and 14 touchdowns on the season. That has led to offers from Virginia Tech, Washington State, Georgia Tech, Arkansas, Indiana, Duke, Louisville, Syracuse, Wake Forest, West Virginia, East Carolina, Boston College, N.C. State, South Florida and several others. Huggins paid a visit to USC for the last junior day in January.
The visit with the Gamecocks opened his eyes to what is happening in Columbia.
“It was like I expected, very good hospitality and all,” Huggins-Bruce said. “They showed us around campus, saw the weight room, talked to the coaches. Best I’ve seen so far. That’s the biggest weight room I’ve seen.”
Huggins also has visited North Carolina and Wake Forest. He said his top group at this point consists of Virginia Tech, Louisville, Duke, West Virginia, USF and East Carolina. He would like to make his decision before the season.
Linebacker Raneiria Dillworth (6-2, 190) of Kernersville, N.C., has named a top five of USC, North Carolina, N.C. State, Georgia and Alabama. Dillworth left off a number of prominent programs that had offered him, like Oklahoma, Tennessee, Auburn, Georgia, West Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Dillworth said the Gamecocks are on his final list for multiple reasons.
“They came by the school a lot, showing big-time love, showing that they want me there,” Dillworth said. “They told me I could fit in and would have a chance to play early, and that’s played a big role in my recruiting. They’ve shown love since I was a sophomore. They pulled the trigger (on an offer) at the beginning of my recruiting process, so that really put them in the top five and put them in good position.”
Dillworth also is attracted to USC by the type of defense the Gamecocks run, and also by the fact head coach Will Muschamp will coach the linebackers.
“I like their defense. I run a similar defense in high school, so I’m going to have more experience,” Dillworth said. “And now that coach Muschamp is also working with the linebackers, that’s even a bigger role too. That’s great because I see that he has more experience in getting the best of the best at my position.”
Dillworth is not the only big-time target USC is pursuing at Glenn High School. His defensive end teammate Jahvaree Ritzie has the Gamecocks in his final 12.
Could they be future teammates as well? “We’ve definitely talked about that,” he said. “It’s like a 50-50 chance that we end up at the same school.” Dillworth visited North Carolina in January but did not get to USC. He will visit all five of his finalists in March and he plans to make his commitment by the end of March or the end of April.
USC commitment defensive back Demarko Williams of Atlanta was offered by Kentucky.
USC target quarterback Colten Gauthier of Dacula, Ga., visited Ole Miss just before the dead period.
USC and Clemson are in the final 10 with defensive back Nathaniel Wiggins of Atlanta. The others are Georgia Tech, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Auburn, Ohio State and Nebraska.
USC is in the top six with linebacker Dameon Wilson (6-1, 210) of Kings Mountain, N.C. He’s rated a 3-star prospect and the No. 24 prospect in the state of North Carolina in the 247Sports composite. The others on his short list are Ole Miss, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina and West Virginia. He visited USC for games twice last season.
Offensive lineman Amarius Mims of Cochran, Ga., included Clemson and USC in his top 12. The others are Southern Cal, Florida State, Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M, Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, LSU and Oregon.
Bryce McGowens (6-5) of Wren committed Saturday to Florida State. McGowens is a 4-star rated prospect and is ranked No. 1 in the 2021 class in South Carolina by the 247Sports composite. He’s rated the No. 9 shooting guard in the nation for the 2021 class. Clemson and USC were among his offers.
Russell Felton (6-4) of Aiken was offered by the College of Charleston.