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October 3, 2012

Recruiting battles: USC-UGA






In this feature from GamecockCentral.com, we take a look at some of the past recruiting battles between South Carolina's coaching staff and this week's upcoming opponent. This week, we focus on some of the prospects that South Carolina and Georgia have gone head-to-head for in the past several recruiting cycles.

Quarterback

Two of Georgia's signal-callers had South Carolina offers during the recruiting process. In the 2009 class, Tampa product Aaron Murray had a scholarship on the table from USC, but made an early pledge in the spring of 2008 to Georgia. Additionally, North Carolina's Christian Lemay picked up a later offer from the Gamecock staff in the 2011 cycle in the midst of a visit to campus, but opted for the Bulldogs. The Gamecocks were not in serious contention for him.

On the South Carolina side, no quarterback currently on the roster carried a Georgia offer out of high school.

Running Back

The two running backs making waves as true freshmen for the Bulldogs both had USC offers coming out of high school in North Carolina in the 2012 class. Tarboro's Todd Gurley, who shot up the rankings after a tremendous Shrine Bowl performance, never showed a lot of interest in the Gamecocks. Thanks to former running backs coach Jay Graham, South Carolina got Keith Marshall on campus for an official visit in November of 2011. The Gamecocks were in the final six for the four-star back.

Gamecock junior Marcus Lattimore was the number one running back in the country in the 2010 class, and carried an offer from Georgia among his host of other options out of Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes. For a while, it was thought that Athens would be one of Lattimore's official visit destinations, but he cut Georgia before the Dawgs made his list of finalists.

Georgia also offered and pursued Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson's Mike Davis, who was committed to Florida for around ten months. He silently committed to Lorenzo Ward shortly after decommitting to Florida last December and then went public with his pledge while on an official visit to USC, coincidentally the same day that the aforementioned Gurley fell to Georgia.

Tight End/Wide Receiver

USC offered Valdosta's Jay Rome in the 2011 class, but never was a factor for the son of former Clemson standout Stan Rome. Georgia was one of the programs to have offered Yulee (Fla.) three-star Kelvin Rainey, who picked the Gamecocks in the summer of 2011 and held off Arkansas at the end.

Georgia was an offer and received a visit for Gamecock freshman receiver Shaq Roland out of Lexington (S.C.) Roland made a visit to Athens, but in terms of out of state options they were not as high on his list as Alabama and perhaps even Florida.

On the Georgia roster, USC offered Valdosta (Ga.) product Malcolm Mitchell as well as Mitchell County's Justin Scott-Wesley. USC was not a factor for Mitchell, and the Gamecocks were frequently listed in the top five for Scott-Wesley before his pledge to UGA in May of 2010.

Offensive Line:

One of the more prized prospects that South Carolina picked up on the recruiting trail is recent memory was Goose Creek's Brandon Shell. Georgia offered and was a co-leader with USC in the summer of 2010 for the 2011 prospect, but the Gamecocks grabbed the lead shortly after that and did not relinquish until signing day. Georgia was also among the group of scholarship offers for Seffner (Fla.) Armwood OL Cody Waldrop from the 2012 class.

The recruitment of Jacksonville (Fla.) Bolles long-snapper/offensive lineman Nathan Theus was an interesting one. South Carolina led in the spring of 2010 for him, until Georgia stepped in with an offer over the summer. Previously, both schools had already offered highly-touted younger brother John Theus.

The next month, Nathan pledged to Georgia but kept looking around because Georgia's offer was initially of the grayshirt variety. He visited South Carolina again, but after the Dawgs firmed up the offer for regular enrollment, he stuck with his pledge. Despite what he said publicly, the program that Nathan chose was always going to be the one that John would also choose in the end.

Georgia lineman Kolton Houston received an offer from South Carolina in the 2010 class and made numerous visits to see the Gamecock program. His father played for Georgia; he opted for the Dawgs.

South Carolina also offered 2011 offensive line prospects Watts Dantzler (whose late father Danny Dantzler played for Georgia in the 1970s) as well as Florida's Zach Debell (who made a visit to Columbia) and Georgia's Xzavier Ward.

Defensive Line

Along Georgia's defensive front, USC extended an offer in the 2011 class to Gainesville (Ga.) East Hal''s Sterling Bailey. Then-assistant Shane Beamer had recruited Bailey's older brother Korentheus when he was at Mississippi State and that helped USC early on, but the Gamecocks faded with time and Georgia eventually nabbed Bailey.

South Carolina did not push for Georgia nose tackle Kwame Geathers out of Carvers Bay High in the 2009 class. Geathers is the brother of former Gamecock defensive end Clifton Geathers.

USC was not a factor in the recruitment of Garrison Smith. South Carolina got Stephenson's Mike Thornton out of the 2010 class on campus, but the staff's position weakened over time. A spring 2010 visit for former five-star Ray Drew was not enough to put the Gamecocks ever into serious contention.

On the Gamecocks' side, Georgia was one of the numerous programs across the country to offer and pursue the former number one prospect in the nation, Rock Hill's Jadeveon Clowney. The five-star visited Georgia early in his recruitment, but Alabama and Clemson were bigger competitors to long-time favorite USC.

Linebacker

After he verbally committed to Vanderbilt, several programs including South Carolina and Georgia continued pursuing Tucker (Ga.) product Josh Dawson (2012 class). The Gamecocks nearly had Dawson on campus for an official visit after Lorenzo Ward made a strong push for USC near signing day, but it did not materialize. Dawson flipped to the Dawgs on signing day.

College Park (Ga.) North Clayton's Amarlo Herrera was an early commitment to UGA but mulled over taking a late visit to South Carolina for a game before ultimately staying in the Georgia fold.

Georgia linebacker Christian Robinson of the 2008 recruiting class is the son of former USC linebacker Kenneth "Gus" Robinson, but opted for Georgia instead of the Gamecocks who finished behind. In the 2009 class, Valdosta's Michael Gilliard considered the Gamecocks for a time.

South Carolina offered but was not a factor for Josh Harvey-Clemons (2012), James Deloach, and T.J. Stripling (2010).

Jarvis Jones originally signed with Southern Cal in the 2009 class but transferred to Georgia; the Gamecocks were not a factor with him coming out of high school. The Gamecocks got 2012's Jordan Jenkins on campus for a visit but was never a serious player.

Just to note, Manning's Dexter Morant was not a prospect that the Gamecock coaching staff pushed for out of high school.

South Carolina spur DeVonte Holloman carried a Georgia offer out of Charlotte (N.C.) Independence , but after some early consideration faded in favor of other schools. He was a former Clemson commitment, but decommitted after Tommy Bowden left the Upstate.

Defensive Back

In the 2008 recruiting class, South Carolina was a huge factor for Augusta (Ga.) Westside's Sanders Commings. Even after finishing second to Georgia when he Commings verbally committed to UGA, the Gamecocks continued pursuit and nearly convinced him to take a late official visit to USC. He stuck with Georgia in the end.

The Gamecocks also offered a couple of Atlanta-area prospects on Georgia's roster in Branden Smith (2009 cycle) and Damian Swann (2011 cycle). Neither showed much interest in the Gamecock program.

Two current Gamecock defensive backs had Georgia offers out of high school. Cornerback Victor Hampton, originally out of Charlotte (N.C.) Independence, was a Florida commitment for months before parting ways with the Gators. He transferred to Darlington (S.C.) and chose the Gamecocks in January of 2010.

College Park (Ga.) Banneker's Chaz Elder picked up an offer from South Carolina later in the process, but it did not take long for USC to jump to the top of his list. Elder took an official visit to Georgia after verbally committing to USC, but USC held on to him over the Dawgs and Vanderbilt.



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