South Carolina bolstered its defensive backfield on Sunday with a commitment from University of Kansas senior Isaiah Johnson.
Johnson (6-1, 210) graduates from Kansas next month and will be eligible immediately as a graduate student at USC.
Johnson made his official visit to USC over the weekend with his family and decided to make his commitment while in Columbia.
“I had a good feeling I was going to commit before I came there anyway,” said Johnson, who cancelled his scheduled visit to Louisville this week. “I just wanted to see it just to make sure. I knew I wanted to play there.”
Johnson said USC co-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke told him he could play anywhere from strong safety, free safety or the spur/nickel back position.
He got a little taste of the gameday atmosphere at Williams-Brice Stadium at Saturday’s spring game.
“Crazy,” he said. “I’ve never experienced something like that. I can only imagine how it is on gameday.”
Johnson went from high school to Western Carolina in 2011 and sat out that season with a medical redshirt. He transferred to Iowa Western Junior College and had eight interceptions in helping lead the team to the national championship. He played the last two seasons at Kansas. He started all 24 games at Kansas and was the Big 12 newcomer of the year in 2013 when he had 73 tackles and five interceptions. Last season he totaled 75 tackles with one interception.
Defensive end Javon Kinlaw of Goose Creek had planned to commit to USC during the junior day in late March. His mind was made up, but the Gamecocks were not ready to take a pledge from him, Kinlaw said, because he’s got some academic work to do to be in a position to qualify for a scholarship.
That hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for joining the Gamecocks, however. He remains in touch with recruiter Steve Spurrier Jr. and talked with him last week. “He just wants to make sure I take care of my academics and stuff like that,” Kinlaw said. “He wanted to make sure I had my academics straight.”
He told me I would be right where they want me to be. If I get my grades, I will commit to the University of South Carolina. But until then, I don’t know. Wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe (6-2, 205) of Suwanee, Ga., has a portfolio full of offers including USC, Cal, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio State, Auburn, Georgia, Alabama, Stanford, Tennessee and now Southern Cal.
He’s made several visits including Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Southern Cal and plans to see USC, Ohio State, Arizona State and Stanford. He went to Florida’s spring game this past weekend where watched his brother play for the Gators. Amongst all this stiff competition, USC recruiter G.A. Mangus is trying to position the Gamecocks for a solid shot with Imatorbhebhe. He was able to recruit Imatorbhebhe’s former teammate Dante Sawyer to USC and he’s using all of his recruiting strength in the Suwanee area to remain relevant in this case.
“I’m really close with Dante Sawyer,” Imatorbhebhe said. “Coach Mangus was always at the school. Me and coach have a relationship that’s just growing. I really like him a lot.”
Besides Sawyer, the Gamecocks have two 2016 commitments working in their favor in quarterback Brandon McIlwain and receiver Kyle Davis, both of whom are friends with Imatorbhebhe. Last season Imatorbhebhe caught 59 passes for 1,072 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Clemson last month gained a commitment from linebacker Rahshaun Smith of Baltimore and that has opened the door for the Tigers to make a run at his close friend and former teammate Kareem Felder Jr., a 5-11, 165-pound defensive back. Felder is a Virginia Tech commitment but is open to overtures from other schools and was at Clemson’s spring game Saturday.
Felder camped at Clemson last summer and said he’s been interested in the Tigers ever since.
“They had the No. 1 defense last year and how I would fit in there and how successful their DBs were, I could be on the depth chart as a freshman,” Felder said.
Felder has 16 total offers and he said he’s also still looking at Clemson, Ohio State and Virginia Tech from those offers. He’s also talking with Alabama but the Tide has not offered. Felder said Virginia Tech continues to lead with Ohio State second and Clemson currently third on the list.
Offensive lineman Will Fries of Cranford, N.J., made his first visit to the Palmetto State last week and made the most of it by spending Monday at Clemson and Tuesday at USC. Fries is one of the top linemen in the Northeast with 19 offers.
“Clemson was amazing,” Fries said. “It was a really nice campus. I sat down with coach Swinney and learned about everything the program stands for. The facilities are top notch and the stadium is something really special.”
From Clemson, Fries and his mother made their way down to Columbia to watch the Gamecocks’ Tuesday practice and to learn more about the school and the program.
“It was different from Clemson,” Fries said. “They are both great in different ways. Coach Elliott is really intense and is a great guy to sit down with and talk to as well. The facilities are top notch and the stuff they are building are going to be even better. That should be exciting to see how that turns out. I got the chance to sit down with Coach Spurrier (in his office) and we were just talking football. It was really cool to meet such a legendary coach like that.”
Fries said at this point none of the offering schools have separated themselves from the pack.
Offensive lineman Clark Yarbrough of Woodberry Forest, Va., has cut his list to Clemson, Virginia, Stanford, Duke and Florida and will announce his choice to his coaches and teammates on the final day of spring practice on May 21. He’s visited all the finalists and plans to take just one more visit before the decision and that will be to Clemson.
Defensive lineman Rashan Gary of Paramus, N.J., is one of the country’s top prospects in the 2016 class with offers from coast to coast. As such, he is trying to visit as many schools as possible and earlier this month he made a run throughUSC, Clemson and Georgia. His mother, who has a brother living in Anderson, also was on the trip and was more than just an idle bystander.
Jennifer Coney said she had plenty of questions for the coaches and got plenty of insightful information. “I was very pleased with both schools and their plan for academic success and the success rate they have academically in reference to getting their athletes degrees,” she said.
Gary also has visited Rutgers, Penn State, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Ohio State and Michigan. Later this month he and his mother plan to see Alabama, Ole Miss and Auburn.
DE Julian Okwara of Charlotte plans to announce his college decision April 30th. He’s down to Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame and Ole Miss.
DB Trayvon Mullen of Pompano Beach, FL has compiled his top ten schools. In order he has Florida State, LSU, Ohio State, Florida, Clemson, Auburn, TCU, Georgia, Ole Miss and Louisville.
WR Diondre Overton of Greensboro visited Clemson Wednesday night and Thursday. He also has offers from USC, North Carolina, East Carolina, Louisville, Kentucky, Wake Forest, West Virginia and Boston College. He has Clemson and Tennessee as his top two right now.
OL Josh Ball of Fredericksburg, VA visited USC Friday. He’s also been to Duke, NC State, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
2017 OL Blake Vinson of Ocala, FL visited Clemson last Monday for the spring practice. He has offers from Florida Atlantic and South Florida. Vinson also has visited Florida, Florida State, Tennessee, Georgia and Central Florida.
2017 California standouts WR Keyshawn Johnson Jr. and ATH Darnay Holmes were at Clemson Thursday.
2017 RB Colin Wilson of Green Cove Springs, FL planned to be at Clemson’s spring game. He has 18 verbal offers.
USC last week offered 2018 DB Christian Tutt of Thomson, GA and Florida State offered 2018 DE Xavier Thomas of Wilson.
Seven-foot center Conor Clifford of Saddleback (Calif.) JC made the long trip across the country over the weekend to check out USC and the Gamecocks are very much in his thinking as he works on a decision that could come as early as this week. Clifford also took an official visit to Washington State.
He had considered visiting Oklahoma State as well but said Sunday he won’t make that trip and will choose between the Gamecocks and the Cougars. Clifford was the junior college player of the year in California this season after averaging 14 points and six rebounds per game.
USC coach Frank Martin is going after 6-6 Malik Ellison of Burlington, N.J., and his efforts are paying dividends. Martin met with Ellison last week and has him lined up for an official visit to Columbia April 24.
Ellison has not yet set any other official visits. He’s also planning to meet with coaches from Wake Forest and Georgia Tech. Ellison is the son of former national college player of the year Pervis Ellison, who is also his high school coach. Ellison averaged 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game last season. Some of his other offers are Minnesota, Maryland, Cal, Temple, Rutgers, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech.
Martin also recently offered 6-7 Dikembe Dixson of Delbarton, West Virgina. Dixson’s coach said the Gamecocks are likely to get a visit from him. “South Carolina has definitely jumped in the mix for him,” coach Brad Napier said. “They offered him late. He’s definitely interested in South Carolina. I know South Carolina is one he told me he wanted to visit along with Arkansas, Mississippi State, DePaul and Cleveland State.”