Two of the state’s top prospects in the 2021 recruiting class have adjusted their commitment plans.
Gaffney defensive tackle Tyrian Ingram-Dawkins originally had set Sunday for his announcement. He even said last week he had made his decision and notified the school. But later in the week he tweeted that he needed more time on his decision and will now wait until his birthday on June 26. His final six are South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Penn State, North Carolina and Florida State.
Myrtle Beach wide receiver J.J. Jones went in the opposite direction. He had set Aug. 5 for his announcement, then decided to move it up to this week. He has not disclosed the day or time for his announcement. Jones is down to USC, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi State.
Paul Strelow of TigerIllustrated reported four-star linebacker Barrett Carter of Suwanee, Ga., will announce his commitment Tuesday night on Atlanta TV. Clemson has been a favorite and already has a commitment from his high school teammate, defensive back Jordan Hancock.
Offensive lineman Jakiah Leftwich of Atlanta, a USC target, plans to announce his commitment this week. The Gamecocks and Georgia Tech have been two of the stronger programs with him. Some of his other offers are West Virginia, Texas Christian, USF, UCF, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Maryland, Tennessee, Kansas and Minnesota.
Defensive end Jahvaree Ritzie of Kernersville, N.C., has set June 12 for his commitment announcement. He’s down to USC, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Ohio State. Ritzie is rated a four-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite and is ranked the No. 14 strongside defensive end in the country. Last season Ritzie had 74 tackles with 18.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks and 4 passes broken up.
USC and Clemson target Zaire Patterson, a defensive end from Winston-Salem, N.C., plans to announce his commitment May 26. He also has North Carolina, Notre Dame, Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Georgia on his short list.
Patterson is considered one of the top defensive ends in the country. He carries a four-star rating in the 247Sports Composite, and he’s ranked 18th nationally and 17th in North Carolina. Last season Patterson recorded 107 tackles with 27 tackles for loss and 9 sacks. He also forced 9 fumbles, recovered 1 and had 3 interceptions.
April was a big month for Marion defensive end T.J. Sanders (6-5, 289). Tennessee, Duke, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech and East Carolina were some of the schools stepping up. USC was the first big offer for Sanders, and he also has Wake Forest, West Virginia, Syracuse and Coastal Carolina on his offer list.
The Gamecocks offered in March after assistant coach Tracy Rocker came on board and took over his recruiting. “I talk to Coach Rocker every day and Coach (Will) Muschamp texts me every day, as a matter of fact,” Sanders said. “They are one of the schools that’s checking on me the most. Coach Rocker talks about football, but when he calls me he’s not just trying to talk football, he’s just trying to see how I’m doing and how my family is doing.
"They are high up on my list. When I make one they’ll definitely be up there.”
Sanders was able to visit USC before the COVID-19 outbreak that led to the suspension of all in-person recruiting activities.
Sanders is rated a three-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite and the No. 9 prospect in South Carolina.
Cornerback Khyree Jackson of East Mississippi JC is in high demand. He recently cut his list to a top 10 of USC, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Florida State, Maryland, Mississippi State, West Virginia, Texas Tech, Louisville and Oregon.
Last season at Fort Scott (Kan.) JC, Jackson had 25 tackles and 3 interceptions. He transferred due to a coaching change at Fort Scott. The Gamecocks offered earlier this month. Since then, Will Muschamp has been in hot pursuit.
“They’ve been recruiting me about the past month, lately it’s really picked up, I talk to Coach Muschamp every day,” Jackson said. “He’s just telling me basically to keep working and don’t let the corona and stuff stop the grind and all of that."
Jackson is well aware of the Gamecocks' heavy use of junior college talent and their success in moving several of those players on to the NFL. That will be on his mind as he further ponders his decision.
“South Carolina is definitely going to be on my mind,” Jackson said. “That’s the SEC, the best conference that’s produced a lot of NFL talent. You’ve got to always consider that. Also, just the JUCO talent that they’ve produced. Javon Kinlaw came from a school I played this year. They just let you know that at South Carolina they definitely expect their JUCO kids to come play.”
Jackson, who is from Upper Marlboro, Md., does want to take his official visits before he makes his decision, and he’s not yet decided on those. He said the virtual visits of this pandemic era won’t be enough for him to settle on a school.
Clemson and Ohio State long ago moved into the lead roles with four-star wide receiver Troy Stellato of Fort Lauderdale. And the behind the scene battle between the recruiters wages on as Stellato gets closer on a final decision. Contact from both sides remains heavy and persuasive as the two national powers throw all they can at the sure-handed receiver. And still others are trying to crash, the party, like LSU.
“I know I came out with a top-two and everything, but I have been communicating with Coach (Brian) Hartline at Ohio State and also Coach (Tyler) Grisham at Clemson,” Stellato said. “I have been building relationships for sure, but it’s a weird time right now but there isn’t much you can do about it. On Thursday, LSU wants to do one of those virtual visit deals. I was supposed to visit LSU, Notre Dame, and Southern Cal, but obviously, due to the coronavirus, none of that was possible.”
Last season, Stellato had 42 catches for 727 yards and 9 touchdowns. He’s ranked 22nd nationally among receivers and the No. 19 prospect in Florida in the 247Sports Composite.
USC remains the team to beat for linebacker Tavareon Martin-Scott of Dodge City (Kan.) JC. The Gamecocks offered him in March and immediately became his favorite, and he’s held to that to this point.
“I would say they are No. 1 right now,” Martin-Scott said. “When am I going to commit? Before the football season of 2020.”
Martin-Scott said he hears every day from the Gamecocks with head coach Will Muschamp always touching base with him.
“Coach Muschamp, he texts me every day," Martin-Scott said. "They send me inspirational things, like a photo or a quote every now and then."
Martin-Scott has had to make the transition in recruiting by the Gamecocks from former linebackers coach Coleman Hutzler to new coach Rod Wilson. That seems to have gone well as Wilson has shared the same positive opinion on Martin-Scott as Hutzler did.
“He likes my range and how I cover the open space,” Martin-Scott said. “I’m athletic enough to make plays in open space and he thinks I’m a great player that fits the scheme.”
Last season, Scott had 42 tackles with 10.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. The native of Gary, Ind., also has offers from West Virginia, South Alabama, Ball State, Akron, Buffalo and Southeast Missouri State.
Quarterback Bubba Chandler of Bogart, Ga., now has three ACC offers to choose from as he considers his football future. Clemson offered him, and that led to a decommitment from Georgia for baseball.
Early last week, after a virtual meeting with head coach Scott Satterfield and quarterbacks coach Frank Ponce, Chandler received an offer from Louisville. And later in the week, Miami jumped on board. He’s also hearing now from Southern Cal, Indiana and Mississippi.
Clemson quarterback coach Brandon Streeter is the Tigers’ front man in the recruiting, and he and Chandler also connected last week for a virtual recruiting session.
“We were talking offense and everything. Studying film,” Chandler said. “And I took away a lot. The offense is very similar to our high school’s. I can learn it pretty easy I feel like.”
The Clemson offer certainly is appealing to Chandler, but now that he’s back on the recruiting market he wants to let things play out a little longer and take some visits.
“I want to see what I can get (offers) and see the various options,” Chandler said. “But Clemson is at the top right now, no doubt.” Chandler also plans to play baseball wherever he lands. He’s a right-handed pitcher and an outfielder.
Wagener-Salley defensive end Elijah Davis (6-4, 260) was offered by USC midway through his junior season and the Gamecocks are in the lead position for him at this point. Davis said he has some academic work to make up in his senior year to avoid going first to junior college, but he’s determined to get that work done. If so, Columbia likely would be his destination.
“It definitely was pretty big,” Davis said of getting the offer from Muschamp. “It’s close to home. I’ve always been a Gamecock fan. It’s pretty good. I wanted to see what other offers I get that I may be interested in, but I have been thinking about committing.”
The other offers Davis has at this point are from West Virginia, Western Kentucky, Western Carolina, UT-Chattanooga, Georgia State and Campbell.
Davis was a dominant all-region performer last season totaling 112 tackles with 47 tackles for loss and 15 sacks. In the 247Sports Composite, he’s rated a three-star prospect, the No. 6 player in South Carolina and the No. 44 strongside defensive end in the country.
First-year USC defensive line coach Tracy Rocker is in pursuit of one of the nation’s top defensive ends in Shambre Jackson (6-5, 250) of Orlando, and he’s gotten the Gamecocks on Jackson's shortened list of 13. But Rocker and Muschamp will be going up against some of the national elite for Jackson, who also has Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida State, LSU, Ohio State, Auburn, Florida, Southern Cal, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Miami on his list.
“I like South Carolina, they offered like a couple of months ago and I talk to them every day and they send me stuff every day,” Jackson said. “I like them. They are cool people. Probably go there for a visit, maybe. I don’t know yet.”
Jackson had 14.5 sacks last season along with 56 tackles and 25 tackles for loss. He is rated a four-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite and the No. 17 strongside defensive end prospect nationally.
Four-star safety Andrew Mukuba of Austin, Texas, has the hometown Longhorns breathing down his neck to stay in-state for his college football. And he’s listening. But there are several major suitors outside of the state trying to pull Mukuba away.
One of them is Clemson, and the Tigers, after making their offer in March, appear to be right there with the Longhorns in this recruiting battle.
“I get a lot of calls and a lot of text messages. Clemson definitely hits me up a lot,” Mukuba said. “I talk all the time to Coach (Mickey) Conn and Coach (Brent) Venables. Alabama hits me up a lot and I talk to Coach (Nick Saban). LSU has been hitting me up a lot and I talk to Coach O. Arkansas, SMU, TCU, Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor and Texas. I obviously talk to Coach (Tom) Herman a lot. There are more than that but that is all I can think of right now.”
Mukuba hasn't visited Clemson but he plans to once the coast is clear for campus visits to resume. But he’s done his homework on the program and knows enough to feel strongly about the Tigers.
“Clemson is a great school, not just for football but its people. It’s the people that are there and the environment,” he said.
Last season he had 26 tackles with 2 interceptions, and 33 receptions for 641 yards and 10 interceptions. He’s ranked the 14th best safety in the country in the 247Sports Composite and the No. 41 prospect in Texas.
Three-star wide receiver Simeon Price of Pensacola, Fla., named his top 10 and USC is in the group. The others are Oklahoma, Mississippi State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, Nebraska, Michigan State, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Dink Jackson of Melbourne, Fla., who is being recruited as an athlete, has USC in his top 10. The others are Auburn, Florida State, West Virginia, Mississippi, Miami, Kentucky, Southern Cal, Tennessee and Louisville. Jackson is rated a four-star in the 247Sports Composite. He’s ranked 16th nationally as an athlete and the No. 38 prospect in Florida. He visited Florida State in March before the shutdown. He’s also a sprinter and has run an 11.04 in the 100 meters.
Clemson is in the final four with four-star safety Kendal Daniels of Beggs, Okla. The others are LSU, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.
USC made the top seven with defensive end George Wilson of Virginia Beach. The others on his short list are Arizona State, Mississippi, Oregon, Penn State, Tennessee and Wake Forest. Some of those cut from his list were Syracuse, Indiana, Michigan State, Georgia Tech and Maryland.
USC is in the top five with defensive lineman Isaiah Coe of Iowa Western JC. The others are Oklahoma, Missouri, Memphis and Mississippi. He will announce June 5.
Three-star defensive end DeMarcus Smith of Birmingham named a top seven of USC, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Kansas, Memphis and UAB.
Clemson is in the final four with the No. 1-ranked receiver in the country. Emeka Egbuka of Steilacoom, Wash., also named Washington, Oklahoma and Ohio State in the group he will focus on. Egbuka visited Clemson last July for the All-In Cookout. He’s also visited Alabama and LSU while on that same trip to the Southeast. Last season Egbuka had 83 catches for 1,607 yards and 25 touchdowns. For his career he has 199 catches for 3,907 yards and 61 touchdowns. On defense, he has career numbers of 74 tackles, 17 interceptions and four touchdowns on interception returns.
Dawson Coleman of Beaufort Academy plans to join USC this fall as a preferred walk-on at wide receiver or tight end.
Wide receiver Mario Williams of Plant City, Fla., committed to Oklahoma. He had a Clemson offer.
Running back Mar’keise Irving of Country Club Hills, Ill., who had a USC offer, committed to Minnesota. Wide receiver Dekel Crowdus of Lexington, Ky., who had a USC offer, committed to Kentucky.
Walhalla native Gabe Wiznitzer (6-11) has seen his recruiting somewhat stymied by COVID-19. He has picked up more offers with Pitt and Virginia Tech the latest two, but of course, he’s not able to take visits and that will prolong the process for him. In the meantime, he’s talking to coaches from schools that have offered and thinking about his official visits.
Clemson has offered and he’s hearing regularly from the Tigers. Last season at Hargrave Prep in Virginia, Wiznitzer averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds per game. He’s a four-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite and ranked the 25th-best power forward in the country.
Power forward John Butler Jr. (7-0) of Christ Church and his dad and coach, John Butler Sr., had a plan worked out for his recruiting this spring. They would take some official visits as a junior, narrow his list and be prepared to make a decision before his senior season. The pandemic changed all that. With a recruiting dead period now in place through the end of June, and likely to extend further, the Butlers have had to slow down and rethink their plan.
“We were going to go through AAU and probably in June or July narrow this list down, and the start of fall have about five or six schools, and before the season decide where we wanted to go,” Coach Butler said. “It’s hard for me to encourage John to sign early and he hasn’t even been on the campus. It’s really stalled everything.”
Butler has offers from Clemson, USC, Alabama, Saint Louis, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Baylor, DePaul, Georgia Tech, Florida, Florida State, Xavier, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.
“He’s really comfortable with six schools, but at the same time there’s probably about 10 to 15 schools that are interested,” Coach Butler said.
Last season, Butler averaged 18 points and 9 rebounds per game. In the 247Sports Composite, he’s rated as a 4-star prospect and ranked the No. 10 center in the country and No. 2 prospect in South Carolina.
Florida State offered Cesare Edwards (6-9) of Hartsville. Clemson and USC are also among his offers. Some of the others are Xavier, VCU, Mississippi, Virginia Tech, Florida, Texas A&M, Providence, College of Charleston and Presbyterian.