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Without a head football coach, Gamecocks' recruiting class falling apart

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South Carolina's football recruiting class for 2021, as one might expect after the firing of head coach Will Muschamp two weeks ago, is coming apart.

There have been six decommitments, with two of them already committing elsewhere – safety Jayden Johnson to Arkansas and linebacker Trenilyas Tatum to Georgia Tech.

Linebacker Bryce Steele of Raleigh was one of those to announce a decommitment last week.

“I really didn’t want to decommit from South Carolina in the first place,” Steele said. “At first, that was my dream school. I committed to Muschamp and his staff back in April and was looking forward to playing there. It was really saddening to see coach Muschamp get fired.

"The fact that the Gamecock foundation is unestablished in a way, coach (Mike) Bobo is interim head coach, but as of right now there is no head coach named. I think it’s hard to build a relationship with the head coach, and South Carolina most likely won’t find a new coach until the end of the season."

South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner has set a goal of having a new coach at least a week before National Signing Day, which is Dec. 16. As far as Steele is concerned, the sooner the better for the Gamecocks if they want a real shot at him again.

“I’ve always wanted to go to South Carolina, just the coaching change has turned me sideways on it,” Steele said. “If the new head coach does get hired soon, my family and I would be open to learning about the new coach and seeing where his head is at.”

Steele currently is focused on Boston College, N.C. State, Michigan State and Texas.

Wide receiver Simeon Price was another decommitment last week, but he’s still keeping the Gamecocks on his short list. He just wants to see what happens with the coaching search and with some other opportunities coming his way.

“Before I put it on Twitter, I called coach (Bobby) Bentley to talk for a little bit,” Price said. “I told him about the uncertainty I had with who they may bring in and how long it may take. I just wanted to open things up and make sure I’m analyzing all my options moving forward.”

Price's options are numerous. It wasn’t long after word leaked out that Muschamp was fired on Nov. 15 that other schools started reaching out to Price, who this season played receiver, running back, safety and corner.

"Mississippi State immediately texted me, and Tennessee and Georgia Tech among others,” Price said. “Clemson, I’ve talked to coach (Mike) Reed, their corners coach a little bit. It would be an avenue to pursue. Obviously, any school that comes your direction is a blessing. With everything that’s going on right now, I’m just grateful to even have offers."

Price said the schools he’s hearing from most at this point are USC, Georgia Tech, Tennessee and Mississippi State. He also has offers from Boston College, Louisville, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Michigan State and Indiana. Price, who also runs track, said he will not sign until February.

As for the other Gamecock decommitments, defensive end George Wilson was offered by Florida State, Boston College and Auburn. Wide receiver Rodarius Thomas has not added any new offers.

Five-star defensive end Korey Foreman of Corona, Calif.,  who was committed to Clemson for about three months early in 2020, returned to campus this past weekend for the Tigers' game against Pitt. Foreman’s senior season in California was moved to the spring, but he is graduating and signing in December.

Along with Clemson, the schools Foreman's list are Georgia, LSU, Southern Cal, Oregon and Arizona State.

Defensive end Byron Young of Georgia Military JC and Carvers Bay High School, said he’s been hearing from USC defensive ends coach Mike Peterson since the Muschamp firing.

“He’s been giving me updates on what’s going on and said they’ll keep giving me updates. They’re getting a new coach and staff and I don’t know how that will work in my favor. I’m not leaning towards them too much. I’ve put my focus on Tennessee, Auburn, Florida State, Missouri and Mississippi State.”

Young visited Auburn a couple of weeks ago on his own just to look around. Young will be signing on Dec. 16 so he’s thinking of making his decision about a week prior. Young said he would be open to talking to the new Gamecock coach if he’s hired before he makes his decision. He picked up offers from Ole Miss and Appalachian State last week.

Offensive tackle Anthony Belton of Georgia Military JC decommitted from TCU. USC offered him earlier in the year and he said he’s talked recently with offensive line coach Eric Wolford.

“He’s just checking up on me and he mentioned that I’m someone that they want at their program. I’m still confident in coach Wolf.” Belton said he’s also been talking to N.C. State, Houston, Florida and Auburn.

Cornerback Damarius McGhee of Pensacola, Fla., who has an offer from USC, decommitted from Tennessee.

Offensive tackle Mason Harrington of Hammond School committed to Wofford.

Greer's Jaleel Skinner wants to be a wide receiver in college but many colleges are recruiting him as a tight end. In the 247Sports Composite for his class, he’s rated as a 4-star tight end and ranked No. 2 nationally at the position.

Skinner said while he has the size of a tight end, his skills and mindset are built around being a wide receiver at best, and a flex tight end at worst. 

“I don’t want to end up somewhere they are going to put 50 pounds on me to make me a blocking tight end when I know I can run and catch the ball," Skinner said. "I want to go somewhere where I know I’m going to be catching the ball at a consistent rate."

Clemson and USC are among his top schools at this point. He’s also interested in Florda, LSU, Tennessee, Georgia, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Oregon and Florida State. 

Hilton Head linebacker Jaylen Sneed (Class of 2022) only played three games this season because of COVID-19 cancellations. But college recruiters had already seen enough of Sneed from his sophomore season to determine he was worthy of an offer, 35 to be exact.

“Oregon, Virginia and Oklahoma are three I hear a lot from with text messages and phone calls. I hear from South Carolina quite a bit, mostly coach (Rod) Wilson, the linebacker coach. He really likes how fast I play, how I like to hit and tackle and make plays. I really like the school, just waiting to make my decision."

Sneed was outstanding as a sophomore with 76 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and 4 sacks. He is rated a 4-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite and is ranked the No. 5 outside linebacker in the class and the No. 2 prospect in South Carolina.

Basketball 

Jai Smith (6-9) of Syracuse, who attends school in Raleigh, has offers from USC and Clemson. He said he’s thinking about cutting his list in the near future. He said USC, Clemson, Kansas, Tennessee, Memphis, Wake Forest and N.C. State are among the schools he is favoring.

“Great programs, great coaches,” Smith said about the Gamecocks and Tigers. “I’m looking for a family team, a brotherhood.”

Kaleb Banks (6-7) of Fayetteville, Ga., was offered by Clemson. He’s rated the No. 20 power forward nationally and No. 2 prospect in Georgia. He also has offers from Georgia, Xavier, Georgia Tech and Mississippi State among others.

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