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July 5, 2012

The board watch



South Carolina already has 18 commitments in the 2013 recruiting class and only has room for a few more. Mostly offensive players will fill out the remainder of the class. Here is a position-by-position look at where things stand in this class.

Quarterback

The Gamecocks have already landed their quarterback for this class in Raleigh (N.C.) Wakefield's Connor Mitch. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder committed to the Gamecocks over offers from Alabama, Auburn, LSU, North Carolina, N.C. State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and several others. He committed in early May after taking several unofficial visits to Columbia during the spring.

South Carolina and quarterback coach G.A. Mangus have turned their attention to 2014 for quarterback recruiting. They have already offered Burlington (Ky.) Conner's Drew Barker in the 2014 recruiting class and appear to be in solid position early in the process.

Running Back

This is a position that could go several different ways. I feel that South Carolina will eventually land one good running back prospect in this class but they have several legit options at this point. It is clear that the most wanted at running back for South Carolina are David Williams (Philadelphia, Pa./Imhotep Inst Charter School), Tyshon Dye (Elberton, Ga./Elbert County), and Oklahoma commit Greg Bryant (Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage School). It is fair to assume that Williams and Bryant are the top two since they have visited USC before.

Bryant committed to Oklahoma in late March but is still open to other schools including South Carolina and Auburn. He visited both USC and Auburn a few weeks back. The 5-foot-11, 197-pounder plans on taking official visits and has recently said that Auburn will definitely get one. Though he didn't say USC would definitely get one, I think there is a really good chance that they will if he follows through and takes his official visits. The feeling around Bryant is that it is still a real possibility that he switches and he isn't that strong with his commitment to Oklahoma at this time. He plans on wait until National Signing Day before making a final decision.

South Carolina also hosted Williams this summer on a visit and it went really well. South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Penn State, California, and Notre Dame are the schools that Williams has under high consideration. USC feels like they have a good shot at Williams and I feel like they are in the upper-half of that group. The 6-foot, 188-pounder plans on taking official visits before making his decision and it looks like the Gamecocks have a good shot at getting one.

The Gamecocks do have some room to make up with Dye and it would be a big step if they can get him on campus sometime to end the summer, like for the Gamecock Showcase in July. Auburn and Clemson are currently the co-leaders for Dye followed by South Carolina and Tennessee. The 6-foot, 200-pounder plans on waiting until after his season to make a decision.

While I wouldn't go as far as saying there is a good chance that South Carolina signs one of the three running backs listed above, I would say there is a legit chance they get one of them. If not, then there are other options available like Jamari Smith (Neptune Beach, Fla./Fletcher) and T.J. Logan (Greensboro, N.C./Northern Guilford). Those are two prospects that South Carolina should be able to get if they wanted.

Wide Receiver

Santee (S.C.) Lake Marion receiver Mike Williams has been at the top of the receiver board from the beginning and he still very much wanted by the Gamecocks. USC should sign one or two receivers in this class and currently have zero. It has been an in-state battle for Williams since the beginning and that remains the case. It is very close between Clemson and South Carolina. I would give a very small edge to the Gamecocks at this point. He visited South Carolina unofficially last week. Williams would like to make a decision before the summer is over so he will be one to watch over the next month.

Two other receiver prospects that are highly thought of and South Carolina would love to land are Demarcus Robinson (Fort Valley, Ga./Peach County) and Alvin Bailey (Seffner, Fla./Armwood). The Gamecocks have room to make up for both prospects and it would be a big step if they could get them on campus soon. Both have said in the past that they will visit but nothing has been set up. Clemson is the leader for Robinson followed by Florida, Notre Dame, South Carolina and a few others. Bailey is getting ready to narrow down his list but is still yet to visit USC.

The Gamecocks have offered junior college receiver prospect Jonathan Rumph (Goodman, Ms./Holmes C.C.). Rumph is originally from Brookland-Cayce High, right down the road from Williams-Brice Stadium, and visited South Carolina over the summer. The 6-foot-5, 215-pounder grew up favoring South Carolina but isn't naming any leaders publicly. I feel like South Carolina can get him if they really turned up the heat on him. He also holds offers from Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Tennessee, and West Virginia. He last said that he would like to make a decision before the football season starts.

South Carolina also has a couple others targets that they are in good shape for right now but they want to see them on campus first. They are Taj Williams (Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln), and former Georgia commit Kyrin Priester (Snellville, Ga./Brookwood). They are both supposed to be on campus at some point this summer and if everything checks out, then they could end up leaving Gamecocks.

The safe bet right now at receiver is that South Carolina ends up with two receivers out of Mike Williams, Taj Williams, Rumph, and Priester.

Tight End

South Carolina has a lot of talent at tight end already on campus and it isn't a big need for them in this recruiting class. There is, however, one prospect to watch at this position and that is Thomson (Ga.) prospect Jordan Davis. Davis is basically down to South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. He has visited all three schools this summer and will visit all three again sometime this month. The South Carolina visit is scheduled to happen sometime next week, possibly July 11.

The main factor here will be that his mother will be going with him on these visits. He plans on making a decision around the end of August. South Carolina does have some things working in their favor. They are recruiting him the hardest and he feels like they want him the most. The things working against them are that Davis did grow up following Florida and he is getting pressure to stay in-state and play for Georgia. This will be an interesting battle to watch over the next two months.

A couple of other factors to watch with tight end recruiting: USC's numbers are very tight overall in the 2013 class, and if the Gamecocks do not receive and accept a commitment from Davis, the staff would likely shut down that position this cycle.

Offensive Line

South Carolina and offensive line coach Shawn Elliott already have four verbal commitments from offensive linemen in this recruiting class. Dillon (S.C.) D.J. Park was the first commitment in the class and could play either guard or tackle at USC. His teammate, Bryce King, projects at either center or guard. The other two offensive line commitments, J.P. Vonashek (Kingsland, Ga./Camden County) and Alan Knott (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek), committed on back to back days in June. They are likely tackles at South Carolina but Knott could slide inside and play guard, where he will begin his career.

The Gamecocks have two big targets left at the offensive line position. The prospect they have the best chance of landing is Na'ty Rodgers (Pomfret, Md./McDonough). Rodgers visited campus for a Junior Day a few months back and has been high on the Gamecocks since. He has a top six of USC, Washington, Oklahoma, Maryland, West Virginia, and Arkansas. It is a safe bet that South Carolina is a top part of that group, if not all the way at the top. He was going to try to visit again for the Gamecock Showcase but will not be able to make it due to visiting family in California. He plans a decision in December or January and will likely visit again for an official visit during the season.

The other prospect along the offensive line is Tyrone Crowder (Rockingham, N.C./Richmond County), who South Carolina has been recruiting for a while. Crowder plans on releasing a top four or five at some point this month. I would lean towards USC making the list but it isn't a given at all. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't make the cut. USC has a lot of room to make up here and needs to get him on campus again. He recently visited Columbia briefly to watch USC's OL/DL camp. Clemson should be considered the team to beat.

Defensive End

South Carolina is likely done at the defensive end position unless they can land a great one. They already have commitments from Devin Washington (Orlando, Fla./Jones), Devante Covington (Rockingham, N.C./Richmond County), and junior college prospect Alfy Hill (Valley Glen, Ca./Los Angeles Valley C.C.). Washington could play with his hand down or rush standing up, but the other two should be true defensive ends at South Carolina.

The Gamecocks also have hybrid type players committed that should play some defensive end at South Carolina. Lithonia (Ga.) backer David Johnson may start out at MIKE linebacker but will eventually outgrow the position. He could play defensive end or even possibly tackle. Goose Creek (S.C.) Gerald Turner will be a hybrid player when he steps on campus and will see some action at defensive end, a lot like Eric Norwood when he was on campus.

Defensive Tackle

The Gamecocks aren't looking for a big class at defensive tackle but would like to add at least one good prospect at this position. It definitely hurt when Pendleton (S.C.) prospect Michael Hill committed to Ohio State last week over South Carolina. Don't be surprised if more prospects pop up over the next month at this position.

The big priority now at this position is Hoschton (Ga.) Mill Creek Kelsey Griffin. Griffin recently named a top five of Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Florida State, and Auburn in that order. He does not have a time frame for making a decision but will be visiting several schools to end the summer. South Carolina is scheduled to get another visit from Griffin for the Showcase and that will be there chance to make a move past Georgia. I do believe that UGA and USC are the main two schools here but it is going to be hard to beat Georgia for Griffin.

Another prospect to possibly watch out for is Jackson (Ga.) Jay Woods. It looks like South Carolina has really upped their interest in Woods over the last week and he should be visiting later this month. That visit should tell a lot as far as USC's interest in him and his interest in the Gamecocks.

Linebacker

South Carolina is done at the linebacker position in this recruiting class and has a very impressive haul set up. It is headlined by Charlotte (N.C.) Vance's Larenz Bryant and Ashburn (Va.) Briar Woods' Matt Rolin. Not only are those two the headliners of this position, but they could also be the headliners of this class. Both prospects are slated to start out at WILL linebacker at USC, though either could grow into a MIKE.

South Carolina also has a commitment from junior college prospect Brandon Golson (Milledgeville, Ga./Georgia Military College). Golson signed with South Carolina out of Calhoun County High School but never made it. He had to go to prep school and then junior college. He is on track to make it to USC this time and will start out at WILL LB.

The last commitment for the Gamecocks at linebacker is Kight Dallas, who will play his senior season Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain (Ga.)

South Carolina also has Cumming (Ga.) West Forsyth's Mohamed Camara committed and he will play the spur position in Columbia.

Defensive Back

The only high school prospect worth watching at defensive back right now is Brendan Langley (Marietta, Ga./Kell). Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina are his top three but I think it is pretty safe to say that South Carolina is a distant third. Georgia is also worth watching out for with Langley as well. The Dawgs have not been publicly in his lead group for a while now, but behind the scenes still appear to be in it.

The only real decision South Carolina has to make at this position is whether or not junior college prospect Ronnie Martin (Milledgeville, Ga./Georgia Military College) will be in this class. Martin signed with South Carolina out of Spartanburg High in 2010 but had to go to junior college instead. He is a pure cornerback prospect with really good speed and cover skills. If his grades are good enough, then he should be in this class.

South Carolina already has three commitments that project to play in the defensive backfield in this class. Jacksonville (Fla.) Wolfson's Jasper Sasser could play on either side of the ball but should start out at safety at South Carolina. Pharoh Cooper (Havelock, N.C.) could also play on either side of the ball but he should start out at boundary corner for the Gamecocks and eventually grow into a safety. Ali Groves (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson) is the last defensive back commitment and he is a cornerback prospect.

Stay tuned for an in-depth look at where things stand with USC's recruiting efforts early on in the 2014 recruiting cycle on GamecockCentral.com in the coming days. If you like this feature, check out our seven-day free trial so you never miss any of the scoop on Gamecock athletics!

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