2014 class shaping up to have strong instate presence

dmclemore@thestate.comJune 23, 2013 

From left: Kalan Ritchie, Darin Smalls, Kevin Crosby, Malik Young and (inset) Joe Blue

DWAYNE MCLEMORE — GoGamecocks

The recipe for South Carolina's 2014 recruiting class will include plenty of Palmetto State flavor.

Five of the Gamecocks' seven commitments for the in-progress class are from the state of South Carolina, and that ratio might not change much between now and National Signing Day.

"There are a lot of good players in this state," said Steve Spurrier Jr., the Gamecocks' recruiting coordinator. "We're chasing several of them and feel good about a lot of them. We'll sign more this year than we did in last year's class."

The state has a deeper high school talent pool for 2014, and the Gamecocks extended scholarship offers this cycle to 14 instate prospects, according to 247Sports.

The Gamecocks signed three from South Carolina for 2013 and recruited out of state more last year because of fewer top targets at home, Spurrier Jr. said.

"Last year I read an article that said because Clemson and South Carolina have gotten better, they have a better chance to recruit better players from other states and they're not recruiting this state as much. I don't necessarily think that was true," Spurrier Jr. said. "I just think the number in our state last year was a little lower than it has been in the past. This year there will be a chance for 10 to 15 players in this state to be recruited pretty heavily by top division one teams."

There are seven instate prospects on the 247Sports' latest Top247 list of the nation's top recruits, compared with one on the final 2013 list. ESPN had four S.C. prospects on its ESPN300 list for 2013 - there are 10 from the state in this year's rankings.

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

USC is expected to sign 12 to 15 in the 2014 class, and more that half of those could be from inside the border. If that happens, it would be the first time in the Steve Spurrier era that more than half of a class came from within the state.

Clemson also is expected to have a smaller-than-normal class this cycle, with 15 to 18 signees likely for the Tigers.

With the instate talent up and scholarship openings down at USC and Clemson, several top prospects are likely to land outside of the state this year, said Keith Niebuhr, national analyst for 247Sports.

Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia Tech are among those heavily recruiting the state of South Carolina this cycle.

"It's a good class in South Carolina this year," Niebuhr said. "The South Carolina kids, with a lot of those kids growing up fans of those two schools, the spots are more limited than ever to go to them. That kind of stinks for the instate kids who may want to go there. There are plenty of other options if you are good enough."

Summerville High defensive back Darin Smalls on Saturday became the latest instate product to pick the Gamecocks.

USC landed fullback-linebacker Joe Blue of Dillon in January. Goose Creek tight end Kalan Ritchie, Piedmont offensive lineman Malik Young and Bamberg-Ehrhardt tight end Kevin "K.C." Crosby all joined the fold this spring.

The 2014 class is on track to have the most S.C. players since the 10 who signed in 2011. That group included Jadeveon Clowney, Brandon Shell, Phillip Dukes, Shamier Jeffery and Shon Carson.

Keeping as many top prospects home is very important, said Crosby, who committed to the Gamecocks on June 1.

"You don't want all your talent to go out of state," Crosby said. "That shows how good your state is. You want to keep as many players in the state as you can, either at South Carolina or Clemson."

Class of 2014

South Carolina’s in-progress player commitments for the Class of 2014.

1. Joe Blue, FB-LB, Dillon

2. Bryson Allen-Williams, LB, Ellenwood, Ga.

3. Kalan Ritchie, TE, Goose Creek

4. Malik Young, OL, Piedmont

5. Kevin Crosby, TE, Bamberg-Ehrhardt

6. Wesley Green, DB, Lithonia, Ga.

7. Darin Smalls, DB, Summerville

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