Sizing up the Gamecocks' 2014 recruiting class outlook

dmclemore@thestate.comMay 11, 2013 

South Carolina’s 2014 recruiting class is expected to number 12 to 15 and be the smallest-in-number class signed under Steve Spurrier.

A smaller class is indicative of better recruiting in recent years and less player turnover, USC recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier Jr. said.

There are four scholarship seniors on the roster – Connor Shaw, Chaz Sutton, Jimmy Legree and Ronald Patrick – and junior Jadeveon Clowney is widely expected to turn pro after the 2013 season.

How the Gamecocks get from five to a dozen or more available scholarships will play out in various forms of player attrition between now and National Signing Day 2014.

Until then, here is a position-by-position look at what a 12- to 15-member recruiting class might look like.

Quarterbacks: 1, or none

The team likes to sign one quarterback each year. Four-star prospect Drew Barker of Hebron, Ky., was this year’s primary target, but he chose Kentucky over South Carolina. There are no guarantees that USC will go after another signal caller. Coaches feel good about what they have in the quarterbacks on campus.

Running backs: 1, or none

Like the quarterback spot, South Carolina is expected to sign no more than one running back. USC has long been the leader for top all-purpose back Derrell Scott of Havelock, N.C. The Gamecocks also are in play for Nick Chubb of Cedartown, Ga. If the team somehow misses on both, USC could decide to stay put with the five scholarship backs that will already be here.

Fullback: 1

Joe Blue of Dillon originally committed as a linebacker but could fill the role of fullback or H-back for the Gamecocks. Blue plays offense and defense for Dillon.

Wide receivers: 2 to 3

Wide receiver is a priority this cycle after the team signed none at the position in 2013. Gaffney receiver Shaq Davidson – considered the No. 1 prospect instate by 247Sports – is a longtime USC lean and the team’s top target. There’s also a serious mutual interest with Atlanta target Terry Googer. Other prospects the Gamecocks are high on include Braxton Berrios of Raleigh and Blake Bone of Woodruff.

Tight ends: 1 to 2

USC signed no tight ends in 2013 and will take no more than two in this class. Coaches aren’t looking far for both tight end targets. The first one came on board when Goose Creek’s Kalan Ritchie committed. Kevin “K.C.” Crosby of Bamberg-Ehrhardt will announce his college choice on June 1. Crosby has been considered a USC lean for much of the recruiting process.

Offensive line: 1 to 3

USC has built depth by bringing in four or more offensive linemen every year since 2010. While the position as a whole isn’t a priority this cycle, the top target on the line is very much a priority. Latta’s Donell Stanley is considered one of the best in the country (No. 2 guard in the nation, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings). Tackle Bentley Spain of Charlotte is another prospect the team is pursuing.

Defensive line: 3 to 5

Coaches are always looking to sign quality players on the defensive line and would take as many great ones who are willing to commit. Plus, Jadeveon Clowney and Chaz Sutton will move on after this year. Top national prospect Da’Shawn Hand, a defensive end from Woodbridge, Va., has visited Columbia and includes USC among his favorites. The Gamecocks also are a favorite of talented tackle Peyton Newell of Hiawatha, Kansas. Closer to home, USC is pursuing tackles Dexter Wideman of Saluda and Poona Ford of Hilton Head. The school is trying to become a bigger factor with Atlanta-area defensive end Andrew Williams, a friend of linebacker pledge Bryson Allen-Williams.

Linebackers: 1 to 2

Allen-Williams on Ellenwood, Ga., was a priority in this class and became the second to commit to the Gamecocks for 2014. He’ll help recruit the rest of this class, which might not include another linebacker. South Carolina signed four linebackers in 2013 and has five others returning at the position. A target – Dillon Bates of Ponte Vedra, Fla. – recently revealed a top five that included USC at No. 5.

Secondary: 2 to 3

This is a position of need with Jimmy Legree a senior and Victor Hampton a possibility to turn pro early. Brison Williams also will be a senior in 2014. Specifically, the team will look to sign at least one corner and one safety, and perhaps another safety that could play the spur position or outside linebacker. Cornerback Darin Smalls of Summerville is the top instate defensive back in this class and a big USC lean. The Gamecocks also are going after D.J. Smith (Marietta, Ga.), Wesley Green (Lithonia, Ga.), Grant Haley (Atlanta) and John Battle (Hallandale, Fla.), among others.

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