Five recruiting storylines for the 2014 class

dmclemore@thestate.comMarch 11, 2013 

Joe Blue

DWAYNE MCLEMORE — GoGamecocks

1. How fast?

South Carolina's recruiting classes have been almost full by the end of the summer the last two years, and this year will likely be no different.

Dillon linebacker Joe Blue is the first pledge for 2014, but history says he'll have plenty of company in the coming months.

In the 2013 signing class, USC had six commitments by the end of April and added nine more in May, June and July.

2. How furious? (The numbers game)

The looming problem for South Carolina is that the team will have four scholarship seniors on the 2013 roster (Connor Shaw, Chaz Sutton, Jimmy Legree, Ronald Patrick). Considering defensive end Jadeveon Clowney intends to leave after next season for the NFL, that makes five open scholarships for next season.

The Gamecocks will sign more than five players, but Steve Spurrier Jr. does not know exactly how that will happen right now. “Recruiting next year is going to get interesting,” he said.

This will be the final year that USC's self-imposed sanctions will limit the team to 22 signees.

South Carolina will need player attrition (and lots of it) if it's going to sign as many players as the school is accustomed to signing.

3. Instate upturn

The state of South Carolina has a deeper high school talent pool for 2014, and the Gamecocks have extended more than 10 scholarship offers to uncommitted instate prospects, according to 247Sports.

There are seven instate prospects on the 247Sports' latest Top247 list of the nation's top recruits for 2014. Goose Creek's Tramel Terry was the lone S.C. player on the final 2013 list.

Eight rising seniors from South Carolina made Rivals' first Rivals250 rankings. Four made the final list from 2013.

The Gamecocks are believed to be in good shape with several of the instate players, including wide receiver Shaq Davidson from Gaffney, offensive lineman Donell Stanley of Latta and defensive tackle Dexter Wideman of Saluda.

4. Top targets

At this stage, South Carolina remains in the mix with defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (6-5, 247) of Woodbridge, Va., considered the No. 1 player in the country by Rivals and 247Sports. He plans to visit USC this summer.

South Carolina's one-and-only quarterback offer is to Drew Barker (6-4, 210) of Hebron, Ky., who says he has no favorites. He also likes Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio State. Last season, Barker passed for 2,072 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushed for 1,455 yards and 18 scores.

Havelock, N.C., running back Derrell Scott, rated the No. 1 all-purpose back in the country by 247Sports, has maintained the Gamecocks as his favorite.

In addition to the team's top instate prospects, other targets include offensive lineman Bentley Spain (6-6, 275) of Charlotte and linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams (6-3, 225) of Ellenwood, Ga.

5. Needs indeed

South Carolina won't sign as many offensive lineman (five in 2013) in the next class, but defensive line will still be a priority.

Clowney and Sutton will leave big voids at the defensive end spots. South Carolina has recruited that position the past two years, signing Devin Washington, Gerald Turner and Devante Covington this year; Darius English in 2012; and Mason Harris and Gerald Dixon in 2011.

Cornerback also will be important, with Legree a senior and Victor Hampton a possibility to turn pro early.

The Gamecocks are expected to sign two to three receivers and at least one tight end in this class. As always, expect the team to sign one quarterback and at least one running back, as well as at least one from all other positions.

According to 247Sports, here's the position breakdown of the more than 100 scholarship offers USC has extended:

Quarterback: One; Running back: Nine; Wide receiver: 20; Tight end: Four; Offensive line: Nine.

Defensive end: 12; Defensive tackle: 10; Linebacker: 13; Safety: 11; Cornerback: 17

Athlete: Six

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