South Carolina Football: All-Time Best Recruit at Each Position

Lee SchechterContributor IIIMay 6, 2013

South Carolina Football: All-Time Best Recruit at Each Position

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    With the 2014 recruiting season fully underway, here is a look back at South Carolina's all-time highest-rated recruit at each position.  

    Under the leadership of head coach Steve Spurrier, the Gamecocks have gained steam in recruiting battles. As Spurrier enters his ninth season with the Gamecocks, he has landed many top recruits who have had major impacts on the field and contributed to South Carolina's recent success.  

    South Carolina has been able to haul in elite recruits from in-state, but now as a consistently high-ranked team, Spurrier is landing out-of-state prospects.  

    While the Gamecocks' are still a rising team who did not have a great deal of success in the past, there are still some impressive recruits from the past.  

    The criteria for being regarded as a top recruit of all-time at each position comes down to mainly recruiting hype and performance while at South Carolina.  

    Most players are from the Spurrier era, due to the team's recent success and the lack of recruiting data prior to 2002.  

    South Carolina has multiple recruits at each position who could be considered as top recruits, especially on the defensive and offensive lines.

    With that being said, here is a list of the all-time best recruit at each position for the South Carolina Gamecocks.   

Quarterback

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    Stephen Garcia

    Stephen Garcia was a top-ranked quarterback recruit coming out of high school who was expected to have huge potential due to his dual-threat abilities.  

    According to Rivals.com, Garcia was rated as the No. 4-rated quarterback and the No. 90 overall player in the nation.

    Garcia had all the skills of a quarterback with a very high ceiling. 

    He had a strong arm, quick feet to escape pressure and a big frame that could endure the brutal physicality of tough SEC defenses.  

    According to ESPN.com's scouting report, "Overall, Garcia is fun to watch as a playmaker in the passing game and with his feet. Once he becomes more polished, he could be a heckuva player at the college level."

    Garcia opted to join South Carolina over other strong football programs such as Florida, Oklahoma and Ole Miss.

    Unfortunately for Garcia and the Gamecocks, his off-the-field struggles impacted his career with the Gamecocks and led to multiple suspensions and ultimately his dismissal from the team.  

    Garcia had the talent to be a great quarterback and had his moments, but lacked the decision-making to stay on the field for his team.  

    Nonetheless, Garcia was South Carolina's best quarterback recruit.   

    Garcia was last seen in the CFL.  

Running Back

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    Marcus Lattimore

    He is arguably the best recruit in South Carolina school history, only rivaled by Jadeveon Clowney.  

    Marcus Lattimore was the total package as a recruit and the Gamecocks were able to get the in-state star running back to commit to their school.

    Lattimore picked South Carolina over Auburn, Clemson, North Carolina and rival Georgia.  

    As an undisputed No. 1 running back in the country and listed at No. 10 overall on Rivals.com's top 100 from 2010, Lattimore burst onto the scene as South Carolina's superstar.

    Lattimore had the power, speed, patience and leadership skills to become an all-time fan favorite player during his career with the Gamecocks.

    According to ESPN's scouting report, Lattimore was a complete recruit, "The bottom line is Lattimore is potentially the complete package at the next level and an every down, durable back who could carry the load."  

    Injuries hampered his career at times, but Lattimore is the best running back recruit even considering that the Gamecocks had a Heisman trophy winner and top recruit in George Rogers.

    With 2,677 career rushing yards, 38 rushing touchdowns and a yards per carry of 4.8, Lattimore made his mark as one of the best running backs, if not the best, to wear the garnet and black. 

    No debate here, Lattimore was the real deal as a recruit.  

    Lattimore was just selected in the NFL draft and is now a member of the San Francisco 49ers.  

Wide Receiver

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    Chris Culliver

    Culliver only played one game as a wide receiver for the Gamecocks, but as recruiting standards go, he was heavily sought after as a wide receiver recruit.

    According to Rivals.com, Culliver was a 5-star wide receiver and No. 3 at the position as well as the No. 19 recruit in the country.   

    He burst onto the scene as an athlete who could play various different positions, but on many lists he was a wide receiver first.  

    While short-lived as a South Carolina wide receiver, Culliver made the switch to defensive back and had a great career that led to him going to the NFL.  

    At the time, Culliver was one of the highest rated recruits to ever attend USC. He chose South Carolina over Florida and Clemson.

    He made his impact as a defensive player, though Culliver was a top wide receiver recruit.

    Culliver is the all-time leader in kick returns and kick return yardage and had three career interceptions.

    Ultimately, Culliver was an exceptional athlete who found success on defense, but his athleticism and recruiting track moved him toward wide receiver when he first got to school.  

    Culliver was picked in the third round by the San Francisco 49ers and plays cornerback.  

Tight End

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    Jerell Adams

    Adams is trying to make his mark this season as a dominant receiving tight end.  

    South Carolina has hauled in some very talented tight ends during the Spurrier era, but Adams was the highest rated.

    Considered a superior athlete, Adams acquired 4-stars from Rivals.com, though he was rated lower when listed solely as a tight end on other sites.

    According to ESPN's scouting report, "Adams is a big, physically imposing athlete that is playing way out of position with this team in a variety of roles. However, this also shows Adams' versatility, range and terrific ball skills."

    His sheer athleticism made Adams a very desirable recruit and he has found his home with South Carolina. Adams also considered Clemson, Arkansas, Alabama and Florida.  

    Adams should be in for a big season this year.

    As a recruit, he is the top tight end that the school has landed even though South Carolina was or is also home to Rory Anderson, Justice Cunningham and Jared Cook.   

Offensive Lineman

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    Brandon Shell

    South Carolina has a lot of above average offensive line recruits over the years, especially in the Spurrier era.  

    Many lineman could have ranked as the best offensive lineman recruit in South Carolina school history, but Brandon Shell gets the nod for now.  

    Shell was No. 4 in the country as an offensive tackle and the No. 66 recruit overall.  

    Shell chose South Carolina over Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Miami. 

    He came out of high school with exceptional size and strength, while also possessing great footwork for a young player of his size.  

    According to Rivals.com, "The fact that he does not get much chance to pass block could mean a redshirt year. You can expect him to become a two- to three-year starter because huge, athletic linemen like Shell are rare."

    He redshirt and it is paying dividends just like the scouting report called for.  

    Shell has lived up to his potential early on in his collegiate career as he earned Freshman All-SEC honors. 

    A.J. Cann and others could have found themselves on the list, but Shell was a spectacular recruit and is having a great career so far at South Carolina.  

Defensive Line

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    Jadeveon Clowney 

    Clowney has always been the best at everything, so why stop now?

    He was the No. 1 recruit in the country in 2011 and that says it all.  

    Clowney is the highest recruited player at any position in school history and is the best player in college football right now as he enters his junior year. He chose South Carolina over Clemson, Alabama, Auburn and Florida.   

    Coming out of high school in South Carolina, Clowney already had freakish athleticism and football instincts. 

    According to ESPN.com's scouting report:

    Right off the bat Clowney grabs your attention with a very impressive physical presence. In that 6-foot-6 range he carries his weight well and has room to pack on a significant amount of bulk as he continues to physically develop. He possesses a nice wingspan and has a very physical nature to him and displays good strength.

    His combination of size and speed made him the target of all high-ranked teams in college football that year.  

    Spurrier landed the nation's top recruit and one of the best players to step on to the field in recent years.  

    Clowney is undoubtedly the best defensive line recruit in school history.   

Linebacker

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    Ricardo Hurley 

    Hurley was heavily recruited due to his ability to play both inside and outside linebacker at a high level.  

    According to GamecocksOnline.com, Hurley was tops of his recruiting class as far as linebackers go, "Rated the #1 linebacker prospect in the country by Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report and Prep Star ... Also rated the top linebacker in the nation according to Rivals.com." 

    Rivals.com ranked Hurley as the No. 17 overall recruit in the country, which places him near the top as an all-time South Carolina recruit.  

    With a big frame and quickness, Hurley made his mark on the football field after deciding on the Gamecocks. He also considered Florida, Florida State, Georgia and Tennessee.    

    Hurley finished his Gamecocks career with 88 total tackles. 

    As one of the top defensive prospects of his recruiting class, Hurley earns his place as the all-time best linebacker recruit for South Carolina. 

Defensive Back

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    Stephon Gilmore

    Gilmore was another top in-state recruit who was named "Mr. Football" during his senior year.  

    He was also the definition of a true athlete.  

    Gilmore played quarterback, could run the football and was an outstanding defensive back.  

    According to ESPN.com's scouting report:

    He primarily plays quarterback in high school, but he likely will be converted to safety in college--and, with more experience, could become one of his class' best at the position. Appears on defense mostly on passing downs and after an opponent crosses the 50-yard line. He's fast, rangy and very athletic. Has natural instincts for making plays and is a true dual threat.

    His defensive skills tagged him as Scout.com's third-best safety and a 5-star recruit.

    As a top recruit, Gilmore was sought after by Alabama, Clemson and Tennessee. 

    Gilmore was quick and had a high football intelligence due to his high school years at quarterback.  He had great athleticism and could do it all.  

    He went on to play cornerback and turn in All-American caliber seasons for the Gamecocks. During his career, Gilmore was a solid defensive back and started 40 games.

    He was selected 10th overall by the Buffalo Bills in the 2011 NFL draft.     

    Gilmore is the best defensive back recruit of all-time in South Carolina school history.