SUMMERVILLE, SC — The office staff at Summerville High School points to the mailroom for evidence of Darin Smalls growing celebrity.
For every piece of inbound mail directed to a teacher, there are three things for Smalls, a standout cornerback for the Green Wave and one of the top instate prospects for the Class of 2014.
The Gamecocks were the first to offer a scholarship to Smalls in early December and definitely are the leaders for his services at this stage in the recruiting process.
Ive been there a lot, Smalls said. I love the atmosphere. I love the coaches, the fans. I love everything about South Carolina.
The consensus three-star prospect is the top-rated defensive back in South Carolina for 2014 and the 16th best instate player, according to 247SportsComposite, which factors in all rankings.
Smalls (5-foot-11, 205 pounds) last season had 58 tackles and five interceptions, including three returned for touchdowns. He also had more than 600 return yards and three scores.
He had six interceptions his sophomore season, two of those returns for touchdowns, to go with 60 tackles.
Smalls also has speed on his resume, with a 4.4-second 40-yard dash time, according to Rivals. He was on Summervilles 4x100 meter relay state championship team in 2012.
Colleges are recruiting him as a corner or safety, as well as a return man. He will also play receiver as a senior at Summerville, but his future is on defense.
Mostly because Im physical, Smalls said. I dont take getting beat lightly. I guess thats what they see on my film. They like that about me.
Smalls added offers from Clemson and Virginia Tech later in December. Florida State, N.C. State, Georgia Tech and Tennessee offered in the new year. Louisville and Oklahoma offered late last week, he said.
In addition to the Gamecocks, his other favorites include the Seminoles, Tigers, Hokies and Volunteers.
Runnings back coach Everette Sands is his recruiter of record for South Carolina, but it was secondary coach Grady Brown who presented the scholarship offer.
Being the first to offer carries a lot of weight, Smalls said, as does USCs history with sending defensive backs to the NFL. He also likes Browns coaching style.
I went to their first bowl practice, he said. The way he coaches them up is how I get coached here. I feel like I could fit in well.
Smalls said he enjoys the tradition that is Summerville football and its legendary coach, John McKissick, who has more than 600 career victories heading into his 62nd season coaching at the school. McKissick is not heavily involved in recruiting, Smalls said, but hes willing to sit down and talk about it if asked.
Smalls plans to let the recruiting process continue to play out. He wants to announce on National Signing Day, but admits things will only get more hectic with everyone wanting to know where hes going to go to college.
Until then, the mail pile will grow, as will the attention from coaches, reporters and fans.
I dont care to be in the spotlight, Smalls said, but its good to have those ratings about yourself. Its a great accomplishment.
Where he ranks
Rivals: 3-stars, 35th best corner
Scout: 3 star, 57th best corner
247Sports: 3 stars, 33rd best corner
ESPN: No rating yet