USC’s new staff reaching out to recruits

Will Muschamp (right) was introduced as South Carolina’s new head football coach on Monday. AP Photo/Sean Rayford

South Carolina’s new football coaching staff will move quickly to reach out to players the previous staff had been recruiting. One of those is former Gamecock commitment Bryan Edwards, a wide receiver from Conway.

Edwards said Sunday he will take his official visit to USC this weekend. He has taken an official visit to Clemson and he said he would make his decision between those two schools as soon as possible after the USC visit. He said there is no favorite at this point. USC has been recruiting Edwards as a receiver while Clemson reportedly is recruiting him as a safety. When asked about the hiring of Will Muschamp as USC’s new head coach, Edwards said he doesn’t know much about him at this point.

USC quarterback commitment Brandon McIlwain of Newtown, Pa., has set his official visit with USC for this weekend. McIlwain seems pleased by the Muschamp hire.

“I liked him at Florida and I’m looking forward to talking to him about the future of the program,” McIlwain said.

McIlwain is regarded as one of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks. This season he passed for 1,727 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushed for 1,528 yards and 30 touchdowns. He is considering enrolling in January.

Fort Dorchester offensive lineman John Simpson hasn’t scheduled any official visits yet but said Clemson and Florida each will get one. He’s not sure on the others. He said all of his top seven — Clemson, USC, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama and LSU — are being considered, noted that Clemson, Florida and LSU stand out the most right now. He does not have a single favorite. Simpson said he will take his recruiting into January.

Clemson once had DE Rahshaun Smith of Baltimore and IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., in its commitment class. But after deciding he wanted to take official visits to other schools, Smith decommitted in August. He has since taken official visits to Oregon, LSU, Auburn and Maryland over the weekend. Clemson is scheduled to host Smith this weekend.

“He’s at a point where he wants to make the right decision,” said his coach Kevin Wright. “He’s all about relationships and trust and I think ultimately he’ll end up where he feels he’s developed the best relationship and he trusts those people will put him in a position to be successful.”

DL Dexter Lawrence of Wake Forest, N.C., is regarded by one recruiting network as the nation’s top prospect for the 2016 class. Few will argue that he is an outstanding prospect who on the high school level has been dominant on the defensive line. The Shrine Bowl selection had 91 tackles and 12 sacks this season. Lawrence is an early graduate and has set Dec. 14 for his announcement date at his school. He will report for the Shrine Bowl in Spartanburg that weekend, return home for the announcement and then go back to the Shrine Bowl. Lawrence has taken official visits to Florida, Clemson and Ohio State and Alabama.

OL Jordan Johnson of Jacksonville decommitted from Georgia Tech recently and one of the schools that immediately moved to the top of his list was USC. The Gamecocks were in strong contention for him until he committed to Tech last summer. Now that he’s looking around again, Johnson said USC will get another close look. “I’m open to anybody who wants to talk to me,” Johnson said. “I plan to take an official visit to South Carolina. USC is the only one I have on my list but I want to see who comes at me. South Carolina has always been one of my favorites.” Johnson said he’s still considering Georgia Tech. He’s also heard from Georgia Southern and Colorado. He’s not naming a favorite at this point.

WR Nate Johnson (5-11 175) of Thompson’s Station, TN recently was offered by USC and he’s strongly interested in the Gamecocks. “It’s an out of state SEC offer and South Carolina is big time,” Johnson said. “I’m very interested and especially want to take my official visit. They watched my film and liked how I played and they offered because my skill set is good enough to play for them right now,” Johnson continued. “That’s great route running, great hands and I also track the ball well.” This season he has 72 catches for 1633 yards and 23 touchdowns. Johnson once was committed to Purdue. He’s also talking to Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Miami and Tennessee. The Vols have not yet offered. He has set official visits to Miami for January 16th, Vanderbilt January 23rd and Northwestern January 30th.

Richland Northeast LB TJ Brunson made his official visit to Louisville over the weekend and he has set a visit with USC for January 16th. Brunson called Muschamp’s move to USC “a great hire I’m happy he’s getting another chance as a head coach because he’s a good coach.” Brunson is still committed to Louisville and said he also might visit Purdue in January. The Shrine Bowl selection finished his season with around 140 total tackles.

USC commitment OL Lloyd Cushenberry of Geismar, LA made an unofficial visit to Mississippi State for the Egg Bowl. It was his first visit to Starkville. “I liked it, I liked the atmosphere,” he said. “I’m still committed but I’m still keeping my options open, seeing where I fit the best, taking it day by day.” He said he will set official visits with USC, Minnesota, Memphis, Mississippi State and Louisiana Tech.

USC commitment DB JJ Givens of Mechanicsville, VA saw his first game in Columbia when he visited USC unofficially for the Clemson game. “It was amazing,” Givens said. “For being a 3-9 team, the fans are so loyal. That was my first Carolina game and it was crazy seeing Sandstorm and everyone. They are loyal. I could definitely see that place as home.” Givens has continued to hold to the commitment he made at camp last summer despite the travails of the program and the strong interest of Wisconsin, Ole Miss and Arizona State. Clemson at one time also made a push but that interest seems to have cooled. Givens’ plan is to stick with the Gamecocks as long as he and Muschamp make a good connection. He plans to visit USC, Wisconsin, Ole Miss and Arizona State.

USC target DE Sadarius Hutcherson of Huntingdon, TN will visit Arizona State January 25th. He has USC set for an official visit January 16th. He plans to set three more.

USC commitment OL Will Putnam of Harrisburg, NC was back in Columbia for the Clemson game. “I’m still committed,” Putnam said. As for the Muschamp hire, Putnam said, “The new hire is interesting. I need to get back down there and meet with him and his staff.” He plans to take his official visit to USC in January and said he might take one to Virginia Tech as well.

USC commitment DE Jordan Smith of Lithonia, GA took an official visit to Tennessee over the weekend while Clemson target WR Diondre Overton of Greensboro, NC took an official visit to NC State.