There were some extra fireworks for the South Carolina football program on New Year's Eve when highly regarded quarterback Brandon McIlwain of Newtown, Pa., announced his commitment to the Gamecocks for the 2016 class.
McIlwain also considered Penn State, Auburn, Florida, Duke, Cal and Virginia Tech during the recruiting process. He is the Gamecocks' third commitment for the 2016 class.
USC recruiter and quarterbacks coach GA Mangus targeted McIlwain from his freshman season because of his similarity in skills to former Gamecock quarterback Connor Shaw. The Gamecocks also had an in with McIlwain because his father went to USC and he has family living in Irmo and Greenville. All that added up to an end of year recruiting victory for the Gamecocks.
"It just felt like home to me," McIlwain said. "And throughout this whole thing I've been the only quarterback they offered in my class. That really made a big impact on me. That let me know that I'm their guy and I'm the quarterback they really wanted for my class."
This past season McIlwain passed for more than 2,100 yards and 18 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,100 yards and 20 touchdowns.
"Since my freshman year coach Mangus has compared me to Connor Shaw," McIlwain said. "He was the perfect example of a quarterback who could throw and run very well at a high level. My ability to run is the big thing for me. I'll fit into their offense well with their zone concepts and get the quarterback on the move."
McIlwain plans to enroll in school in January 2016.
Clemson commitment WR Jae'lon Oglesby, the former Daniel star who attended Fork Union Prep this season, will not join the Tigers' program. His father on Sunday did not reveal specifics but said they would know more this week. glesby was a Shrine Bowl selection in 2013 after rushing for 2,174 yards and 21 touchdowns. He played receiver at Fork Union this season.
The Tigers, however, are picking up another Daniel standout. Shrine Bowl DB Amir Trapp (5-9, 160) has accepted a grayshirt offer meaning he won't join the program until next January. Trapp is the son of former Clemson star James Trapp who now works at the university. Trapp had 55 tackles and 6 interceptions this season and averaged 22 yards per punt return.
Clemson commitment WR Ray-Ray McCloud of Tampa confirmed to the media at the Under Armour Game last week that he will not enroll this month. McCloud committed to the Tigers last summer. He has steadfastly maintained his commitment and has refuted reports he will take other official visits, but the 247Sports network continues to report that he "most likely" will visit Alabama, Florida and UCLA this month. The 5-9, 180-pound McCloud committed to the Tigers back in July.
Clemson commitment WR/DB Juwuan Briscoe of Waldorf, Md., committed to Georgia over the weekend.
USC will add a new punter prospect to the team this spring. Sean Kelly of Winter Garden, Fla., said Sunday he had decided to accept a walk-on offer from the Gamecocks over Florida State and will enroll in school this week. Kelly played two years at Florida Atlantic before attending Tallahassee JC this fall and not playing football. He will have three years to play two. In 2013 Kelly averaged nearly 43 yards per punt with 19 over 50 yards and 26 downed inside the 20.
USC commitment DE Arden Key of Atlanta said at the Under Armour Game over the weekend that he has been contacted by new Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp who offered him while he was the head coach at Florida. Key said he will consider making an official visit to Auburn which he has visited several times unofficially. Key currently plans to visit USC, LSU, Miami and Georgia.
USC also has made a move with Kentucky commitment DB Jeremiah Denson of Hialeah, Fla.
"They (USC) offered about two weeks ago and are coming at me strong," Denson said. "I'm real interested in them. They had two defensive backs decommit and coach Brown came back and offered me. My interest is real good."
He's never visited USC and plans to take an official visit, possibly Jan. 16.
Junior LB Jamie Skalski of Newnan, Ga., favored USC ahead of Clemson and Ole Miss during the football season, but now he's moved the Tigers to the top of his list ahead of the Gamecocks and Rebels.
"My favorite right now is Clemson," Skalski said. "I like coach Venables and I like their defense. The way I play, I can fit right into their system."