Looking for the next Hayden Hurst, South Carolina on Saturday received a commitment from a tight end with a lot of promise.
Nick Muse, a 6-5, 235-pound native of Belmont, N.C., is transferring after two seasons at William & Mary. Muse won’t arrive until August so his scholarship will count on the 2020 class, giving the Gamecocks 15 pledges for the class.
Muse said one of his high school coaches contacted Gamecocks’ tight ends coach Bobby Bentley about his plans to transfer to a major football program, and Bentley had him in for camp last week. He impressed Bentley and head coach Will Muschamp and was offered. He announced his commitment on Saturday.
“They told me they were going to offer me before Wednesday but they wanted to see my skill set, my competitiveness and how I work well with others around me, and then they offered me officially on Wednesday,” Muse said.
“He (Bentley) said I’m a difference maker and would do very well in the passing game. I’m not a terrible blocker but I’m more of a route running tight end than a blocker. They will use me more as a threat down the middle of the field like they used Hayden Hurst.”
Last season Muse was a third-team All-CAA selection. He had 30 catches for 453 yards and one touchdown. In an upset win over nationally ranked Maine, Muse turned in the best game of his career with eight catches for 107 yards and a touchdown. Muse plans to appeal to the NCAA for immediate eligibility and said he has to talk more with Bentley and Muschamp about the details of what USC will argue on his behalf.
Muse's brother is Clemson senior safety Tanner Muse, one of the hardest hitters in college football. And it would be quite the story if the two of them had the chance to meet on a seam route deep in the Clemson secondary.
“Deep down, he knows what’s going to happen,” Muse said. “It’s all competitiveness at the end of the day. Whether he knocks me out, he’s going to help me up, and if I run him slap over, I’m going to help him up as well.”
Cornerback Dominick Hill (6-2, 185) of Orlando committed to USC last week. Hill had long ago named the Gamecocks the team to beat and said Will Muschamp and his staff were “still at the top” and “strengthened their position” after his last visit to campus.
“Our relationship is genuine, me with South Carolina and Muschamp,” Hill said. “I just like the coaches, T-Rob and Muschamp, they are just good coaches. It’s a rising university, they are on the come-up facility wise and player wise. I think it would be a good fit.”
Hill played wide receiver before his coach Elijah Williams suggested a move to the defensive backfield. The adjustment paid off on the field and college coaches took notice.
“He’s long and rangy, Williams said. “He has an understanding of offensive schemes and concepts because he played offense. He’s a long, big corner but can press and cover smaller receivers. And he has great ball skills. Anytime you can get a 6-2 corner that can run, that’s cream of the crop.”
Last season Hill had 40 tackles and he broke up 10 passes. Hill also received scholarship offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Miami, North Carolina, Missouri among others, before settling on his commitment to the Gamecocks.
USC added what is likely the final piece to its 2020 offensive line haul with a commitment last week from Vershon Lee (6-3, 290) of Woodbridge, Va. He picked the Gamecocks over Pitt, and also considered N.C. State, West Virginia and Wake Forest in his final short group.
Tight end Sage Ennis (6-4, 225) of Tallahassee, Fla., committed to Clemson last week. He is the Tigers' first tight end for the 2020 class and the 18th commitment overall.
Wide receiver Deajaun McDougle of Deerfield Beach, Fla., took his first official visit over the weekend to USC and the Gamecocks further cemented their place in his mind as one of his top schools. He already had USC on his short list with Ohio State, Purdue, Oregon and Maryland. He wants to take more official visits but this one gave him something to compare everyone else with.
“It went great,” McDougle said. “The atmosphere and the guys and the teammates. Everybody was real with me 100 percent, me and my family.” McDougle had the chance to talk with Muschamp and Bryan McClendon about their plans for him should he choose USC, and the point made was he has a chance to catch passes with the Gamecocks. “They told me I would have a chance to play,” McDougle said. “I told them I wanted to come in and make an impact, and they said I had a good chance for that. That’s exactly what me and my family are looking for in a school, for me to come in and play. I believe I can play anywhere I go. I don’t feel that I have to wait and play, though I still want to learn.”
Cornerback Joey Hunter of Tyrone, Ga., took his official visit to USC over the weekend. He has the Gamecocks in his top seven and will announce July 2. The other schools are Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Boston College, Pitt and Texas A&M.
Conway defensive end Tonka Hemingway took an official visit to North Carolina over the weekend. He's also taken an official visit to USC and plans to visit Duke and Wake Forest.
Offensive lineman Issiah Walker of Miami continues to stick with his long-standing commitment to USC. Since he made his pledge over a year ago, Walker has continued to draw major recruiting interest, especially from the Florida schools. He visited Miami twice last week alone. He’s also been to Florida, Florida State and UCF. Yet, his commitment to the Gamecocks remains firm.
Walker was back at USC over the weekend to participate in Saturday’s camp and to just visit with everyone again. Walker has kept Gamecock fans on edge with his visits to other programs. But he said the Gamecock coaches understand what he’s doing and haven’t asked him to stop.
“I’m just enjoying the process and taking visits,” Walker said. “I told Muschamp I was going to take visits but I was still committed. It’s not like I’m going to decommit, it’s not like that.. I’m just seeing more. That’s pretty much the way it is.”
Running back Daniyel Ngata of Folsom, Calif., is the brother of Clemson freshman receiver Joseph Ngata. A running back/slot back prospect in the 2020 class, he has a Clemson offer and was in earlier this month for a camp, his second visit to the school.
Clemson already has a pair of running back commitments, so if they decide to move on Ngata, and vice-versa, it would be an over-sign for that position. Ngata is well aware of the situation.
“Me, Coach Elliott and Coach Scott just text sometimes just to catch up and keep in contact,” Ngata said. “They’ve got those two running backs committed but that doesn’t mean anything until Signing Day. I’m just keeping that contact with every coach."
Ngata has Clemson in his final seven along with Texas A&M, Penn State, Utah, Arizona State, Oregon and Oklahoma. He would like to take an official visit to Texas A&M this summer if he can work it in. Last season Ngata rolled up 1,700 all-purpose yards and 22 touchdowns.
Running back Tank Bigsby of Hoganville, Ga., was back at USC Saturday to observe the final camp session of the month. Bigsby has made several visits to USC. He’s also been a frequent visitor to Auburn and he was back there on Sunday. He’s also been to Georgia and LSU. He has taken official visits to USC and Auburn.
USC target tight end Eric Shaw visited Florida last week. He has named a top seven of USC, Florida, Auburn, Kentucky, LSU, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
Linebacker Phillip Webb of Buford, Ga., has Clemson on his list of 11 colleges. The others are Notre Dame, Alabama, Stanford, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Auburn, LSU, Florida State and Florida.
Wide receiver Semaj James (5-11, 175) of Tallahassee, Fla., made an appearance at USC’s camp Saturday. The Gamecocks already liked James enough to offer back in February. Saturday gave the coaches an extended look at James, and it gave him the chance to get a feel for what playing at USC might be like.
“I can’t explain it,’ James said. “It was unreal. The receivers coach is one of the realest coaches I’ve ever spoken to and had a real conversation with. South Carolina is one of my favorites by far. Talking to Coach Muschamp was the craziest thing ever. They like my size and that I can play slot and on the outside. They say I’m a big, fast and explosive receiver with moves, and the sky’s the limit for me.”
James said the Gamecocks are at the top of his list right now.
“I love the atmosphere and the one-on-one coaching,” James said. “Definitely a favorite with other big schools I have in mind.”
Those other schools include Ole Miss, LSU, UCF and Auburn.
Running back CJ Stokes of Hammond (Class of 2020) performed well at USC’s camp Saturday and left with an offer from the Gamecocks.
“The offer was a great start. I love Gamecock football and I had a great time at camp. They liked my speed and my work ethic," he said.
Stokes was a late-season call up to the varsity last season by Hammond coach Erik Kimrey. On the junior varsity he rolled up 1,400 all-purpose yards and 19 touchdowns.
USC target defensive lineman Elijah Roberts of Miami committed to Miami on Friday. He visited USC officially last weekend.
USC target safety Janari Dean of Batesville, Miss., committed to Mississippi State.
Tight end Cane Berrong of Hartwell, Ga., committed to Notre Dame. He also drew interest from USC and Clemson. He camped at Clemson but was not offered.
Clemson became an early contender for 6-6 small forward Dontrez Styles of Kingston, N.C., by dispensing an offer to him on Saturday.
The Tigers join VCU, Georgetown, St. John’s, Ole Miss, Pitt, USF and East Carolina on his offer list. The Tigers started to follow Styles earlier this month and his performances led Brad Brownell and staff to go forward with the offer.
“Clemson is a great university, I love everything about them,” Styles said. He has taken unofficial visits to North Carolina and East Carolina and has nothing else scheduled at the moment. Last season Styles averaged 18.5 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.
Clemson also offered 6-9 Jabari Smith of Atlanta.
Competition takes the place of recruiting the next few weeks for 6-9 PJ Hall of Dorman. This past weekend he and his state champion Dorman team were in Columbia for three games in the SC High School League Scholastic Basketball Event which is sanctioned by the NCAA. Next month he’ll return to AAU action before shutting that down and preparing for his senior season. And that will include more recruiting activity.
Hall has taken official visits to Florida and Clemson. And he recently added offers from Texas Tech and Vanderbilt. His other offers include USC, Clemson, Maryland, Marquette, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Wofford and the College of Charleston.
USC also has been active with Dorman point guard Myles Tate in terms of visits and watching him this summer. Last week Tate returned to USC for a five-hour visit.
“It went real well,” Tate said. “We went up in the meeting room with Coach (Frank) Martin and the whole staff and we had a good talk. We went around and talked to people who are over the academics and they told me what the academics are all about."
Virginia Tech has been his only other unofficial visit to date and he has no other visits planned at this point. The schools standing out the most with him right now are USC, Virginia Tech, Appalachian State, Murray State and College of Charleston.
Southern Miss grad transfer catcher Bryant Bowen committed to USC. Last season he hit .341 with 11 home runs and 51 RBIs.
USC catcher commitment Luis Aviles switched his pledge to Tulane, and UCF grad transfer catcher Dallas Beaver committed to USC. He started every game for the Knights this season in a variety of positions and hit .316 with 12 homers and 56 RBIs.