Gamecocks' 2014 recruiting class outlook - an updated positional review

dmclemore@thestate.comJuly 24, 2013 

— South Carolina’s 2014 recruiting class is more than half full, with more than six months to go until National Signing Day.

This year's group is expected to number close to 15 - though it could grow beyond that. Exactly how big it will be is impossible to know, said USC recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier Jr.

"I love listening to everybody talk about what they think is going to happen," he said. "Every year is very different. It's a very inexact science up to signing day."

Last year an injury and a decommitment forced the Gamecocks to start recruiting linebackers again in December and January.

This year's 10-member class is half-offense, half-defense. Six are from South Carolina.

"It's good where we are and where we're trying to get," Spurrier Jr. said. "Everyone can predict what they want. Nobody knows exactly where we're going to be or what our needs will be in January. That's the hardest part about early recruiting. You don't always know what your needs will be."

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 15 or more available scholarships will play out in various forms of player attrition between now and Feb. 5.

"We'll continue to recruit the heck out of 20 guys," Spurrier Jr. said. "I do prefer that over 10 years ago where right now we were recruiting 80 guys."

Here is an updated, position-by-position look at this year's recruiting class and outlook.

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. Bo Baldwin of South Aiken was evaluated and impressive at a seven-on-seven tournament last month and invited back for this week's Black Magic camp. Baldwin could land an offer this weekend if things go well. Sean White of Hollywood, Fla., was on USC's radar, but he committed to Auburn. If there winds up being no quarterback in this class, coaches feel good about what they have already 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., who doesn't appear to be making a decision any time soon. If the team somehow misses on Scott, USC could decide to stay put with the five scholarship backs that will already be here.

Fullback: Done

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: 1 to 2 more

With top target Shaq Davidson of Gaffney in the fold, USC will take at least one and no more than two more at the position. Wide receiver is a priority this cycle after the team signed no one at the position in 2013. There's a serious mutual interest with Atlanta target Terry Googer, who is considered a heavy USC lean and will announce his decision on Aug. 16. Other prospects the Gamecocks are high on include Braxton Berrios of Raleigh and Blake Bone of Woodruff. USC is in both players' final groups, and Bone recently gave the Gamecocks a slight advantage.

Tight ends: Done

Coaches didn't looking far for both tight end commitments. The first one came on board when Goose Creek’s Kalan Ritchie committed. Kevin “K.C.” Crosby of Bamberg-Ehrhardt became the second pledge at the position on June 1. USC signed no tight ends in 2013.

Offensive line: 1 more

While the position as a whole isn't a big need 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. Stanley's decision could be made as early as this summer and as late as a January all-star game. USC also offered Wando offensive lineman Nolan Kelleher last month. One lineman already is in the fold: Woodmont High guard Malik Young committed to the Gamecocks in May.

Defensive line: 2 to 3 more

Coaches are always looking to sign quality players on the defensive line and would take as many great ones who are willing to commit - and USC is in the mix with a number of targets. Junior college defensive end Jhaustin Thomas, who signed with USC for the 2012 class but failed to qualify, is back on the Gamecocks' commitment list for 2014. Junior college defensive tackle Abu Lamin has named USC his leader and could announce his decision in the next month. The Gamecocks also are in the final group for talented tackle Peyton Newell of Hiawatha, Kansas, and he will announce on Aug. 30.

Closer to home, USC is pursuing tackle Poona Ford of Hilton Head. Dexter Wideman of Saluda committed to Florida State but will continue to hear from the Gamecocks. The school also is becoming a bigger factor with talented Atlanta-area defensive end Dante Sawyer.

If those aren't enough names to remember, USC also is back in the running for defensive tackle Anthony Moten of Fort Lauderdale after his decommitment from Florida on Saturday. Defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth of Mobile, Ala., has also named the Gamecocks his leader.

Linebackers: Done

Bryson Allen-Williams on Ellenwood, Ga., was a priority in this class and became the second to commit to the Gamecocks for 2014. He continues to help recruit the rest of this class, which is not expected to include another linebacker. South Carolina signed four linebackers in 2013 and has five others returning at the position.

Secondary: Likely done

The Gamecocks were expected to sign three in the secondary and already have three commitments: Summerville's Darin Smalls, Wesley Green of Atlanta and Al Harris Jr. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 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.

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