South Carolina National Signing Day 2014: Position-by-Position Analysis
The 2014 recruiting season is in the books. And chalk up a big success for South Carolina.
It wasn't the smoothest recruiting season, and the list of recruits isn't long. Sure, there are no 5-star commits. But all that doesn't matter.
The Gamecocks addressed team needs, won key recruiting battles and made waves on national signing day with the additions of Dexter Wideman, Wesley Green and Chris Lammons.
With the 2014 recruiting season now behind them, head ball coach Steve Spurrier and his staff can focus on the 2014 season.
Here is a position-by-position analysis of South Carolina's 2014 recruiting class.
All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.
Michael Scarnecchia, 3-star pro-style QB: 6'3", 185 pounds (Orange Park, Fla.)
South Carolina didn't really need a quarterback. With Dylan Thompson, Brendan Nosovitch and Connor Mitch, the future is set in stone, especially since Mitch will likely take over the offense for the post-Thompson years.
Even with that said, the South Carolina coaches like Scarnecchia.
He is nowhere near ready to play at the college level, but given time and instruction from a great staff, he could be a solid backup or even wind up starting in his senior year. He has the ideal frame for a quarterback and is a good student of the game, so that could go a long way.
Tyshun Samuel, 3-star WR: 5'11", 180 pounds (Inman, S.C.)
Terry Googer, 3-star WR: 6'4", 209 pounds (Atlanta, Ga.)
Shaq Davidson, 4-star WR: 6'0", 170 pounds (Gaffney, S.C.)
South Carolina is continuing to load up at wide receiver. And Shaq Davidson is the stud of this set of recruits.
He can work the slot or the outside and could find some early playing time with the departure of Bruce Ellington. Can anyone say "Double Shaq Attack" with Shaq Roland?
Davidson has good hands, works well in space after the catch and runs solid routes. All of that will translate to on-field success.
Terry Googer provides a very tall, long target at wide receiver. The Gamecocks needed a tall wideout, and he will be the guy. He may be a 3-star, but he has major upside given his size and hands. He just needs some time to figure out how to use his body to his advantage.
Samuel is not quite there yet but could be in time.
South Carolina is not lacking at wide receiver when these offensive weapons are thrown into the mix.
Kalan Ritchie, 3-star TE: 6'5", 210 pounds (Goose Creek, S.C.)
Kevin Crosby, 4-star TE: 6'0", 236 pounds (Bamberg, S.C.)
How does South Carolina keep doing it? Success keeps building on success.
The Gamecocks land two more solid tight end recruits to add to the trio of tight ends they already have.
Kalan Ritchie probably won't find playing time in the immediate future, given the depth at both tight end and wide receiver, but that will give him time to pack on some weight and work on being a bigger receiving threat. He needs to use his size to his advantage in passing and blocking.
Kevin Crosby has a shot at earning some playing time as a freshman. With Dylan Thompson under center, the Gamecocks should utilize some power-running formations, opening the opportunity to use Crosby as an H-back or fullback instead of a traditional tight end.
He is an excellent blocker and has even better hands despite his shorter stature. He could be a great out-of-the-backfield weapon before transitioning into a more traditional tight end role.
Both of these players have a bright future with South Carolina.
Donell Stanley, 4-star OG: 6'4", 330 pounds (Latta, S.C.)
Malik Young, 3-star OG: 6'3", 277 pounds (Piedmont, S.C.)
The Gamecocks were unable to swing Damian Prince's commitment to them, but all that doesn't matter.
With Donell Stanley leading the way, South Carolina has a big immovable force to groom into an offensive guard.
The team is set on the offensive line with a lot of returning talent, so Stanley provides depth if he doesn't redshirt. Either way, he is a future starter on this team and a great signing for Spurrier and his staff.
Malik Young is not ready yet, but he doesn't have to be. Like I said, South Carolina is loaded on the offensive line, so he can take the time to develop.
Considering the current talent on the Gamecocks offensive line, these two recruits fit in well.
Jhaustin Thomas, 3-star JUCO SDE: 6'6", 255 pounds (Decatur, Ga.)
Dante Sawyer, 4-star WDE: 6'2.5", 262 pounds (Suwanee, Ga.)
Blake McClain, 3-star SDE: 6'4", 280 pounds (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.)
South Carolina flipped Blake McClain's status from Nebraska, and he adds to a group of gifted defensive ends. He is the big, strong, powerful end. Meanwhile, Jhaustin Thomas provides extreme length that can be menacing for an opposing quarterback's vision in the passing game.
Sure, McClain and Thomas are good recruits, but Dante Sawyer is the real prize. South Carolina needed some defensive linemen to take the place of Jadeveon Clowney and Chaz Sutton. Sawyer could be the guy to start right away. He has the skills, so watch for him in 2014.
Dexter Wideman, 4-star DT: 6'4", 255 pounds (Saluda, SC)
Abu Lamin, 4-star JUCO DT: 6'4", 300 pounds (Fort Scott, Kan.)
I'd say South Carolina hit the jackpot at defensive tackle, especially since the Gamecocks needed interior help to replace the loss of Kelcy Quarles.
Dexter Wideman is the big-time gem from these two because he is younger than Lamin and South Carolina lured him away from Florida State. He's a little small for the inside right now, but that doesn't mean he won't be effective.
He has huge potential and will grow into the position with some time. Adding muscle will be important so he doesn't get beat up inside. But Wideman has a great motor to pair with excellent footwork. South Carolina should be excited to have this kid in garnet and black.
Abu Lamin is the most ready of the two because he is a junior college transfer. He's already big at 300 pounds and will have an immediate impact on the line. He can lead a strong push from the interior and is explosive out of his stance. Look out, SEC—Lamin means business.
Al Harris, 3-star CB: 5'11", 160 pounds (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
D.J. Smith, 4-star CB: 6'0", 191 pounds (Marietta, Ga.)
Chris Lammons, 4-star CB: 5'9.5", 170 pounds (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Wesley Green, 4-star CB: 5'11", 170 pounds (Lithonia, Ga.)
Up until the final full month of the recruiting season, South Carolina was ringing the alarms. The losses of Victor Hampton, Jimmy Legree and Ahmad Christian created a bit of a panic in the secondary. How would the Gamecocks find players for the position?
Well, they didn't just find players beyond Al Harris for the class; they found some excellent talent.
D.J. Smith was the first of the three to commit, and he is college-level ready, much like Lammons and Green. In my opinion, Lammons is the most ready to play, but Green and Smith are right behind him.
While the 4-stars dominate this group, Harris is a player to watch. He's not the fastest, biggest or strongest corner, but his technique is excellent, and that translates into success at the position. He could emerge as one of the better players in this quartet.
Regardless of his success, it's safe to say that South Carolina is set at cornerback for the future.
Bryson Allen-Williams, 4-star OLB: 6'1", 222 pounds (Ellenwood, Ga.)
Despite only landing two linebackers, this duo is exactly what South Carolina needed.
The linebacker position is already sitting pretty with the whole squad returning. Larenz Bryant could also start to have a say on defense.
The depth at the position does not mean that one of the top recruits of South Carolina's 2014 class, Bryson Allen-Williams, won't find the field. He's a prototypical linebacker with leadership and superior tackling abilities. He moves well and is likely to find some action on the field in 2014.
Joe Blue has a lot of upside but needs a little more time to develop. He isn't college-level ready like Allen-Williams. However, the coaching staff likes what Blue has to offer, and his time will come.
Darin Smalls, 3-star S: 5'11", 200 pounds (Summerville, S.C.)
Smalls is the lone safety recruit in the 2014 recruiting class. It wasn't a major area of need like cornerback because the Gamecocks have players like Chaz Elder, T.J. Gurley and Kadetrix Marcus already at the safety positions.
He won't find any early playing time, but that will be a good thing for Smalls because he needs some time to develop. He's a year or two out from making an impact on defense.