2011 Recruiting: Where South Carolina's Top 10 Recruits Could Go
Schools have gotten the word that South Carolina's talent is as good as anybody's, making it one of the more interesting ACC/SEC battleground states in the country.
Check in quick. Many of these recruits are about to make their first verbals. They grow up so fast, don't they?
Hakeem Flowers, ATH
Flowers, a versatile athlete who could play wide receiver, running back, safety, or corner, claims no favorites from an offer list that includes Michigan, Oklahoma, LSU, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Florida State, Auburn, Oregon, Georgia Tech, Texas Tech, Maryland, Duke, Colorado, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, and N.C. State.
Ironically, Clemson and South Carolina have not offered, and he's interested in hearing more from them. The silence is odd.
I buy the buzz that Michigan is doing well recruiting him. I know Rich Rodriguez has been after South Carolina recruits for some time, having pursued ATH Stephon Gilmore and signed ATH/QB Conelius Jones in recent classes.
Outside of that buzz, there isn't much to report. He doesn't appear to be resenting the national attention, and he doesn't have a leader. This one will take until fall to clear up any more. For now, I'm cautiously optimistic.
Dexter Staley, RB/OLB
Three schools jump out of this intro in a Scout article on Dexter Staley: Florida, South Carolina and Miami.
Six total schools have offered Scout's No. 8 outside linebacker, who is also an accomplished threat on the ground: the Gators and Gamecocks join Maryland, Michigan State, Miami, and Colorado, with the Spartans and Buffs being the most recent offers.
With Florida and South Carolina pursuing him hard, it will be an uphill battle for any out-of-state schools not named Miami. Should the Clemson Tigers decide to offer, they'd be another school I wouldn't want to go up against for an in-state talent.
Much will depend on how Staley responds to the national attention as it accumulates. Will he entertain the idea of visiting other schools like Michigan State and Colorado, or stay faithful to the Gamecocks and Gators, schools that got on him early?
Stay tuned. With his athleticism and versatility on offense and defense, Staley's a lock for the top 150 lists that will be popping up soon.
Justin Worley, QB
Justin Worley of Rock Hill, SC, drew praise from Scout for his accuracy, and has received offers from several top-tier programs, in the South and beyond.
Tennessee looks to have jumped ahead of the pack.
Worley has visited UT's campus a number of times, including for their spring game, and has said he's not intimidated by the competition on the Vols' depth chart, the same competition that facilitated Nick Stephens' recent transfer.
That's a good thing, because he's still a raw recruit whose arm strength is questionable. On the Vols' crowded depth chart, a redshirt year, followed by a competition when Matt Simms leaves, is likely.
With the talk really heating up on Worley, I wouldn't be surprised if he was one of the first of these 10 players off the board. The Vols are pursuing him heavily, and I'm not seeing the counter-buzz you usually see when a recruit is torn between two choices.
The Vols are alone at the top, and they're a damn good choice.
Charone Peake, WR
Charone Peake's top three is Clemson, Georgia, and Florida, with the Tigers holding an edge.
Recent CU commitment Tony McNeal is in Peake's ear to commit to the Tigers soon.
But I think this one's in the bag for the Tigers. If a decision goes into fall—and that's a big if—Florida and Georgia have a shot. Anything sooner, and he's a Tiger.
Brandon Shell, OT
Brandon Shell was one of my picks for the top offensive tackle recruits of the 2011 class.
My assumption that he would keep his recruitment quiet and local looks like it's bearing out.
I'm confident this will remain an in-state battle between the Tigers and Gamecocks, one that could break one way or the other based on outside commitments from other tackles, and also stretch until Signing Day if he changes his mind.
Unless Florida, Georgia, or Alabama come after him heavy, he might not even venture outside the Palmetto State for an official.
Gerald Dixon, DE
Gerald Dixon, a defensive end out of Rock Hill, South Carolina's South Pointe High School, also has a half-brother named Gerald Dixon, a defensive tackle who goes to Northwestern High School...in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
To make matters more confounding, their father is named Gerald Dixon, and he coaches...at Rock Hill, a different high school.
Here's something not quite as confusing: the Dixon boys are probably both going to South Carolina.
They'd be following in their father's footsteps—Dixon played linebacker at South Carolina.
And the Gamecocks have been recruiting on the defensive line almost better than at any other position over the past few years.
A South Carolina offer has materialized, and despite some outside competition, I don't see the Dixon brothers going out of state.
Good luck to Brent Musburger on figuring this one out when the Gamecocks play Clemson in a few years, though.
Shon Carson, RB
Early in Shon Carson's recruiting, the message boards were buzzing about his talent. Some were saying that the Scranton, SC running back was a huge UNC lean; others, that he was a lock to commit to South Carolina. Now you know why I avoid those things.
Carson did attend UNC's spring game and holds a Tar Heels offer, among many others.
In February, Carson received offers from Tennessee and USC, and was apparently on the phone with Lane Kiffin for a spell.
By searching for him, I came across his MySpace page (an entirely new level of creeptastic, even for me), and saw that his status was a top nine, in no order, that included "Alabama, unc,uga,lsu,clemson, usc, southern cal, miami, florida."
Do I smell a long, drawn-out recruitment? Those nine schools could do battle for him throughout the summer and fall, and considering how many heavy hitters are on that list, this could last until Signing Day.
Shamir Jeffrey, QB/WR
Go Gamecocks recently ran an article stating that Jeffrey was closing in on a decision, and it looks like Kentucky will be the benefactors of his commitment.
The Wildcats like him at quarterback, though he's listed as Scout's No. 28 wide receiver and has said playing quarterback isn't a must at the next level.
His brother, Alshon, plays wide receiver for the Gamecocks, and they have offered, but Shamir was encouraged to make his own decision. He has said he will visit, however.
He also wanted to take visits to Alabama and Auburn, two other major offers.
I'm guessing that Jeffrey's decision will be a flexible one. Kentucky may lead, but if Alabama, Auburn or Georgia were to come calling in the summer or fall, he might be open to changing his mind.
Whatever he decides, call it naming a leader, not making a solid verbal.
Lateek Townsend, OLB
Lateek Townsend was mistakenly believed to have committed to Clemson in late February.
He'd been a strong Clemson lean for a long time, and his false verbal came on the heels of several actual commitments, so it wasn't out of order to think his response to Clemson's junior day pushed him over the edge.
Their offer—and, let's face it, their winning pedigree—caught his attention, and he's ready to pay a visit to Gainesville.
Don't be surprised if that visit precipitates a Gator commitment. He seems like the kind of prospect who really likes who he likes when he likes them, so to speak. That doesn't mean other programs can't step in later, but for now, Florida is the program du jour.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE
Only a month or so ago, Jadeveon Clowney looked like a slam dunk for Steve Spurrier and South Carolina. For the second straight year, the Gamecocks would be landing the Palmetto State's top player, this one an impact defensive end who was reaping in offers from all over the country.
But in the past week, UNC vaulted SC as Clowney's leader after he attended the Tar Heels' spring game. His contact at UNC, John Blake (formerly of Oklahoma infamy), has turned out to be one of the top behind-the-scenes recruiters in the country.
Once the first sign of indecisiveness appears, you can bet fools will be rushing in.
LSU is the likely other destination for an official.
So whither South Carolina? Clowney missed their spring game, but they're probably not entirely out of the hunt yet.
Once you get a glimpse of the national wine-and-dine treatment, it takes a special kind of player to turn that down.
Clowney likely isn't one of them, and it's hard to blame him. He's receiving buzz as 2011's top player overall, this year's version of a Ronald Powell. He has a right to find the best program for him. It's UNC's, or Bama's, or Clemson's, or SoCar's, or someone else's job now to make him believe they're the right fit.