Gamecocks class breakdown: Steals, sleepers and more

dmclemore@thestate.comFebruary 6, 2014 

KC Crosby

DWAYNE MCLEMORE

South Carolina’s 2014 signing class ranks among the nation’s top 25, something that’s happened every year under Steve Spurrier. The group ranks No. 16 by Rivals, No. 19 by ESPN and No. 24 by Scout. As a whole, USC ranks No. 15 in the 247Sports Composite, which factors in four networks.

IMMEDIATE HELP

South Carolina needs help at cornerback after the departures of Jimmy Legree, Victor Hampton and Ahmad Christian. It’s not inconceivable that one or two of the prospects signed Wednesday could play a significant amount of snaps in 2014. Wesley Green of Lithonia, Ga., and Chris Lammons from Plantation, Fla., are both four-star prospects that USC landed on signing day. Green, Lammons and D.J. Smith from Marietta, Ga., are all top-25 cornerbacks for this cycle, according to 247Sports’ Composite rankings.

Any of the defensive linemen signed have a chance to break through in their first year, if even to provide depth. Junior college transfer Abu Lamin is already on campus and will have the spring and summer to make his case for replacing Kelcy Quarles at defensive tackle. Lamin (6-foot-4, 295 pounds) already bears a physical resemblance to Quarles (6-4, 298 pounds).

The 6-foot-6, 255-pound Jhaustin Thomas, who also signed with USC in 2012, has the size to compete for a role at defensive end right away after two years at junior college.

STEALS

Longtime USC commitment Bryson Allen-Williams of Ellenwood, Ga., had a solid senior season. Then a standout week at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl raised his recruiting stock. Recruiting networks gave him a bump in the ratings, making him the highest-ranked in USC’s 2014 class, according to 247Sports Composite. And he stuck with the Gamecocks despite a strong late push from Georgia and Alabama.

Fellow Atlanta-area standout Dante Sawyer also had a good week at the U.S. Army event, recording three sacks in the game. He picked USC over offers from Alabama, Auburn and others.

Inside South Carolina, Bamberg-Ehrhardt tight end Kevin “K.C.” Crosby and Latta offensive lineman Donell Stanley both chose the home-state Gamecocks over long offer sheets that included Alabama, LSU and Clemson.

USC also flipped two defensive linemen on signing day: Blake McClain (former Nebraska commit) and Dexter Wideman (former Florida State pledge).

SLEEPERS

Chapman High receiver Tyshun “Deebo” Samuel didn’t make a lot of noise in recruiting circles but is no sleeper to opposing Upstate coaches. He amassed more than 2,000 all-purpose yards and 30 touchdowns as a senior. With a handful of offers to his name, South Carolina made a push for Samuel after his academic situation improved and scooped us his commitment in December. He also was awarded a fourth star from 247Sports after a strong Shrine Bowl week.

Quarterback Michael Scarnecchia of Fleming Island, Fla., is a solid but under-the-radar addition to the class. The three-star prospect is regarded for his height (6-foot-4), arm strength and his ability to protect the ball (1,692 yards passing, 28 touchdowns and two interceptions as a senior). He had interest from LSU, Indiana, Iowa, Purdue, Syracuse and Arkansas State, with UAB being his only other offer.

Taylor Stallworth, a 6-foot-2, 293-pound defensive tackle from Mobile, Ala., is regarded for his strength and toughness. USC held off a late push from other SEC schools.

PROJECTS

Malik Young is hard to miss. The 6-foot-3, 318-pounder from Woodmont High was lightly recruited, but Shawn Elliott liked his potential and brought him into the fold for this class. He’s fast for his size (4.99 40-yard dash) and will get time to develop into a contributor for USC at guard.

USC originally recruited Goose Creek’s Kalan Ritchie (6-5, 226) to play tight end. Ritchie, however, played defensive end almost exclusively as a senior and will start out there as a Gamecock. His frame and development will give USC options in the coming years.

MISSES

South Carolina initially made Hebron, Ky., Drew Barker its primary quarterback target for this class. The Gamecocks were perceived as the front-runners until Mark Stoops and his staff persuaded Barker to stay home and play for the home-state Kentucky Wildcats.

Derrell Scott of Havelock, N.C., was USC’s main running back target, but he opted for Tennessee.

Five-star offensive lineman Damian Prince from Maryland kept the Gamecocks under consideration until a few weeks ago and decided Wednesday to stay home and sign with Maryland.

BY POSITION

Quarterbacks: 1; Running backs: 0; Fullbacks: 1; Wide receivers: 3; Offensive linemen: 2; Tight ends: 1; Defensive ends: 4; Defensive tackles: 3; Linebackers: 1; Cornerbacks: 5; Kicker: 0

BY STATE

South Carolina 9; Georgia 6; Florida 4; Alabama 1; North Carolina 1.

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