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  1. OL Darius Washington firms up USC visit date AUGUST 16, 2018 BY PHIL KORNBLUT LINK: SPORTSTALK Darius Washington OL Darius Washington of Pensacola, FL has now firmed up his official visit to USC for September 7th. The Mississippi State commitment already had set officials to Mississippi State for September 28th and Miami for October 5th. Washington said USC coach Will Muschamp is leading the Gamecocks’ recruiting efforts and is in touch daily, primarily thru text messages. “He just asks me how I’m doing, how school is going,” Washington said. “We’re just keeping in contact and he’s just telling me about practices. I need to get up there and see the camp and see how everything goes on my official visit. I can’t pinpoint my feelings without getting there. As of relationship wise, talking on the phone, we have a phone-built relationship.” Washington committed to Mississippi State in early June and the Bulldogs have remained in firm control of his recruiting since then. It won’t be easy for the Gamecocks or Hurricanes to turn him from the Dogs. “It’s going to be very hard to get me away from Mississippi State,” Washington said. “Mississippi State just knocked it out of the park on my last visit. They showed me everything and I just love the coaches so much and I just love the school in general. If a school shows me they are more comfortable to my situation and specifically it’s better for me at that school than Mississippi State, then I’d basically change my mind, but right now my heart is committed to Mississippi State and it’s going to be very hard.” Washington said his grandmother and uncle will join him on his visits. Right now he does not plan to sign early.
  2. LINK: TERIYAKI CHICKEN Wins & Recruiting AUGUST 13, 2018 Last year I took a look at how South Carolina recruiting has stacked up against the rest of the SEC East and Clemson. I wanted to take it a step further by expanding the list of teams to include the entire SEC and ACC and look at how recruiting is affected by wins in previous years. This grouping basically includes all the major programs in the Southeast, and typically accounts for ~50% of the Top 25 in the recruiting rankings in a given year. The general belief in college football is that the rich get richer, and that recruiting acts as a positive feedback loop, i.e. more wins lead to better recruits which lead to even more wins. In reality recruiting is affected by a variety of factors. Some teams have more tradition, some schools are in regions with better demographics and access to top talent, and some teams are known to flat out cheat more than others. A splashy new coaching hire can also bring immediate benefits on the recruiting trail. All these other factors are hard to quantify, but win totals are readily available, so let's see what we can discern with those. The rankings I used this time are the team composite rankings from 247 Sports, which are generally considered to be the most accurate as they pool data from multiple scouting services. I went back as far as I could (the year 2000), at which point the rankings are a bit wonky and max out at 44. For the analysis below I only used recruiting rankings from 2002 onward as those appear to be reliable from that point. Here's some other notes about the data: Teams included are all SEC and ACC teams as those conferences are currently constituted. So all years for Texas A&M, Missouri, Miami, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Pittsburg, Syracuse, and Louisville are all included despite those teams being in other conferences for a portion of the years being reviewed. That also means no Maryland. Years 2003 and 2004 only had 11 regular season games, as they were sandwiched between the 2-year trial of 12 games in 2001 and 2002 and college football officially moving to a 12-game regular season from 2006. I looked up the RGB and Hex values for the set of official team colors for every team, and used those to customize the markers for the data points in the charts below. As you can imagine, this took quite a bit of effort and a not insignificant amount of time to accomplish. To save space and make each chart more legible I've included a single legend for each data point in Figure 1 below. Please refer to this when looking at the following charts. Figure 1. Legend showing all teams included in the following charts and their associated marker using official team colors. Preceding Year Wins and Recruiting I believe the prevailing thinking amongst college football fans and pundits is that a winning (or losing) season leads to an immediate impact on the recruiting trail, so in Figure 2 below I've plotted the 247 Composite Team Rankings against each team's win total for the year immediately prior. Figure 3 shows the same data, but is more narrowly focused by showing only teams with Top 25 recruiting rankings. Figure 2. 247 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings for each year over the period 2002-2018 vs each team's win total for the preceding year. There's currently 65 'Power Five' teams in existence, so the worst you'd ever really expect a team from the SEC or ACC to finish is around 65th in the recruiting rankings. There are some notable exceptions (looking at you, Kentucky and Wake Forest), but you can certainly see a ceiling around 65 in the data. As you'd expect, no team that has a 13+ wins in this group finished outside of the Top 20 in recruiting. On the other side, no team that had 2 wins or less finished inside the Top 20. Apart from that, there's not really a clearly evident trend here. You can win between 3 and 11 games and end up anywhere in the Top 80 in recruiting. The average number of wins in this data set is 7.36, with the mode being 7. The average recruiting ranking is 31.50, with a mode of 11. Two easily identifiable outliers in the data are Louisville and Missouri. Both finished two seasons with 12 wins but ended up outside the Top 25 in recruiting. Both schools are located in areas not known for producing football talent, and Louisville's 12-win seasons came while they were a member of the Big East conference. Figure 3. 247 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings (Top 25 only) for each year over the period 2002-2018 vs each team's win total for the preceding year. There's not a lot more that can be determined from looking at Figure 3 other than just getting a closer look at who's in the Top 25. A team can win as few as 2 games and end up in the Top 25, although that is much more likely to happen with 8+ wins. Alabama dominates the bottom-right of this chart. The bottom-left has a group of suspicious characters that will be discussed in further detail later. Over the 17 year period referenced, only Georgia, Florida, LSU, and Florida State have finished in the Top 25 in recruiting every year. Auburn has done this 16 times while Tennessee, Alabama, and Miami have done it 15 times. South Carolina has 13 Top 25 finishes over this period, and Clemson has 12. Not a surprise, but worth pointing out, is the fact that the SEC dominates the ACC in terms of Top 25 recruiting rankings. Of the 222 data points in Figure 3, 154, or 69.4%, belong to SEC teams. Two Years Prior Wins and Recruiting I've heard on multiple occasions that given the time required to build relationships with players and their family members, a big winning season has more impact on the recruiting class two years later than it does on the class immediately following the season (i.e. win totals for the 2000 season impact the 2002 recruiting class more than they do the 2001 class). In Figures 4 and 5 I've plotted recruiting rankings against wins from the season two years prior to see if this postulation is supported by the data. Figure 4. 247 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings for each year over the period 2002-2018 vs each team's win total for the season two years prior. At first glance Figure 4 looks very similar to Figure 2, but upon closer inspection the data does appear to be more closely grouped towards a central trend. In particular the 7 to 9 win range exhibits a denser grouping of data points. Figure 5. 247 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings (Top 25 only) for each year over the period 2002-2018 vs each team's win total for the season two years prior. As we saw with regards to Figure 4, there's not much to differentiate Figure 5 with Figure 3 above. Alabama has slightly less of a stranglehold on the bottom-right, while Ole Miss (2013) and Auburn (2014) look very suspicious by themselves in the far bottom-left. Both of those recruiting classes occurred one full season after a coaching change. Overall I'd say there's maybe a little bit of truth to the thinking about wins having more impact two years down the road, but there's not anything definitive in this analysis, at least in this view of the data. Given the recent addition of an early signing period in December, I expect wins from two years prior to be much more relevant to recruiting going forward, as most teams now have a vast majority of their recruiting class locked in before bowl season. Preceding 4-Year Win Average and Recruiting In my personal experience, I didn't really become aware of the wider world of college football until around 9th grade. I certainly followed the Gamecocks in depth (as much as was possible pre-Internet at least) and generally knew what teams were historically good, but I really didn't know much about what went on beyond the borders of SC. I assume that I was a fairly typical young guy and that not much has changed in the past 20 or so years. I'm sure that as these potential recruits start playing more competitive football and getting contacted by coaches their awareness of the college football landscape increases dramatically, and when it's finally time for the some of them to choose a program their impressions of teams are based mainly on what has happened since they entered high school. Four years ago I would often see a recruit say something like 'South Carolina always beats Clemson' in an interview. Clemson's current run of success would likely result in a high school senior not realizing that Clemson is a historically mediocre program. In Figures 6 and 7 below I've plotted the recruiting ranking against the average win total for the previous 4-year span. Figure 6. 247 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings for each year over the period 2002-2018 vs each team's average win total for the preceding four years. Now we're seeing a much clearer trend in the data in Figure 6. The data grouping is much tighter and follows the trendline you'd expect to see: top-left downwards toward the bottom-right (i.e. better recruiting with more wins). If a team averages more than 10 wins over a four year period, their next recruiting class is almost guaranteed to be in the Top 20. A major exception to this is Virginia Tech, which finished inside the Top 20 only once out of six years with a 4-year average of 10+ wins. This illustrates that that program has some sort of major disadvantage with regards to recruiting compared to other high-achieving teams. Something jumped out at me that I didn't expect when looking at this chart, and it has to do with team colors. If your team has a single primary color and that color is any kind of shade of blue, it will almost never average more than 8 wins over a 4-year period. Duke average 8.3 wins from 2012-2015, and UNC averaged 8 wins for the last two years of the period 2012-2016. That's it. Also, of the 'blue' teams only UNC has ever had a Top 20 recruiting class. Figure 7. 247 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings (Top 25 only) for each year over the period 2002-2018 vs each team's average win total for the preceding four years. Again, notice the much tighter distribution of data points in Figure 7 compared to Figures 3 and 5. Three teams have gotten their 4-year win average to 12 or above: Alabama, Florida State, and Clemson. Of these Clemson has underachieved relative to the other two in recruiting rankings. Clemson finished 16th in 2017 and then 7th in the most recent recruiting class after averaging more that 12.3 wins in the those years. The lowest the other two have ranked when averaging more than 12 wins is 6th (Alabama, 2018), with most rankings ending up as either 1st (Alabama) or 3rd (FSU). In Figure 3 you can see that many teams have been able to recruit at a Top 25-level after having only 4 or fewer wins the previous season. Figure 7 shows, however, that it is almost impossible to pull that off if you only average less than 4 wins over a 4-year period preceding the recruiting class. North Carolina managed a 10th ranked finish in recruiting in 2007 despite averaging only 4 wins. Weird. Ole Miss and Tennessee also managed Top 10 recruiting rankings while averaging less than 6 wins. Again, we'll talk more about these classes a little later. Extrapolations from Wins and Recruiting Data So far we've seen recruiting rankings compared against three different views of prior wins: wins in the season immediately preceding the recruiting class, wins in the season two years prior to the class, and average wins for the four season prior to the recruiting class. In Figure 8 you can see the trendline for each of the three separate datasets. Figure 8. The trendlines for each of the full datasets in Figures 2, 4, and 6. The first thing to notice is that the trendlines for the 'Preceding Year' and '2 Years Prior' datasets are nearly identical. These trendlines project for every 1 win either the previous season or two season back, a team's recruiting ranking would be expected to improve by 3.9 spots. You can write this equation to roughly predict a team's recruiting ranking based on a given win total: Recruiting Ranking = 60 - 3.9 * # of Wins That equation won't be very good, however, as the R-squared number for those trendlines is fairly low. R-squared is a measurement that shows how closely data fits a particular model. In this case the R-squared values for the 'Preceding Year' and '2 Years Prior' trendlines are 22.8% and 24.2%, respectively. In other words, only about 23.5% of recruiting rankings will fit a linear model based on wins from recent single seasons. As we visually saw in the data earlier though, the linear model fits the '2 Years Prior' dataset slightly better than it does the 'Preceding Year' dataset. The correlation coefficient for the 'Preceding Year' and '2 Years Prior' datasets are -0.48 and -0.49, respectively. This indicates a moderate linear relationship. The R-squared value for the linear model of the '4-Year Average' dataset is much better at 35.0%. This certainly jives with a visual inspection of Figure 6 compared to either Figures 2 or 4. The slope of the line here is much steeper, with every increase in 4-year average of 1 win corresponding to a 6.1 improvement in recruiting ranking. The equation for this line can be written as: Recruiting Ranking = 76 - 6.1 * 4-Year Win Average The steeper slope of the trendline for the '4-Year Average' dataset isn't all that surprising when you consider that improving your 4-year win average by 1 represents a total of 4 additional wins over that period. This corresponds to roughly winning 8% more of your total games. The correlation coefficient for the '4-Year Average' dataset is also much stronger at -0.59, which represents a moderately strong linear relationship. Improvement in Wins and Recruiting OK, so now we've shown that there is a (weak) correlation between wins and recruiting rankings, but what about the effect of improvement in wins? Does the excitement generated by a drastic increase in the win column spill over to the recruiting trail?As we see in the Figure 9, the answer to that question is: Nope! Figure 9. Year-over-year change in Recruiting Rankings from 2003-2018 compared against year-over-year change in win totals in the preceding year. If rising (or falling) win totals had an effect on recruiting ranking, the logical expectation for what you'd see in Figure 9 would be a diagonal line moving from the bottom-left up towards the top-right of the chart. The chart above doesn't show anything like that, however. Given the symmetrical clustering around the origin in the chart, what is shown is that change in recruiting ranking appears to move independently of change in preceding year win totals. This is backed-up by the very low correlation coefficient of this dataset of -0.10, indicating almost no linear relationship whatsoever. So, combining this with what we saw above, we can say that while wins themselves are somewhat correlated with future recruiting performance, change in win totals in themselves do not correspond to change in recruiting rankings. Top 10 Recruiting with 6 Wins or Less the Previous Year I've called attention a few times above to the relatively rare phenomenon of teams achieving elite recruiting results despite limited success on the field. Given the small number of teams involved I was able to add labels to the chart in Figure 10. For further clarity I've listed the teams that have managed to pull in Top 10 recruiting classes after winning 6 or less games in the preceding year: 2004 Texas A&M - #10 after 4 wins 2007 North Carolina - #10 after 3 wins 2008 Miami - #1 after 5 wins 2009 Tennessee - #8 after 5 wins 2011 Clemson - #10 after 6 wins 2011 Georgia - #7 after 6 wins 2012 Miami - #10 after 6 wins 2014 Florida - #9 after 4 wins 2014 Tennessee - #7 after 5 wins Figure 10. 247 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings (Top 10 only) during the period 2002-2018 for teams that finished with less than 6 wins in the preceding year. Of the 9 teams that have achieved this feat, a surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly???) large number of them were caught up in varying degrees of scandal afterwards. The 2007 class for North Carolina included two 5-star recruits, DT Marvin Austin and WR Dwight Jones, as well as six 4-star recruits, one of which was WR Greg Little. Austin was later kicked off the team and Little declared permanently ineligible in an improper benefits scandal that ensnared 9 other Tar Heel players. Also, the notorious North Carolina academic scandal was concurrent with this time period. As a result of multiple violations during this period Head coach Butch Davis was fired in 2011, North Carolina vacated all 16 wins from the 2008 and 2009 season, and the NCAA imposed a post-season ban in 2012 along with 15 scholarship reductions. The 2008 Miami recruiting class occurred in peak Nevin Shapiro years. Shapiro was convicted in 2010 of running a $930M Ponzi scheme, and between 2002 and 2010 spent more than $2M on Miami athletics. Shapiro has admitted to providing cash, booze, hookers, and even abortions to Miami players throughout this period. Six players from the 2008 recruiting class were later suspended for accepting impermissible benefits from Shapiro, and Miami gave itself a post-season ban for 2 years, which prevented the Hurricanes from playing in the 2012 ACC Championship Game. The NCAA later docked 9 scholarships from the team. The 2009 Tennessee recruiting class was Lane Kiffin's first and only class as head coach for the Volunteers. The headliner of the class was 5-star RB Bryce Brown, who was involved with a very shady character named Brian Butler and signed with Tennessee a more than a month after signing day after previously committing to Miami. Aside from just generally pissing everyone in the SEC off for 14 months, Kiffin's recruiting methods during his tenure resulted in probation and other penalties levied by the NCAA, which were enhanced further after assistant coach Willie Garza was found to have paid notorious scout Willie Lyles for reimbursement of recruit travel and then lying to the NCAA about it. 3 years after Texas A&M pulled in the #10 recruiting class in 2004 head coach Dennis Franchione was forced to resign for distributing a secret $1,200 per year subscription newsletter. The newsletter apparently included information on injuries and recruiting that weren't publicly disclosed, and this information was likely used by recipients to gamble more effectively. An internal investigation found that distribution of this newsletter and the profit gained from it were NCAA violations. One team that just missed being included in the list above by squeezing out 7 wins immediately prior to finishing #8 in the recruiting rankings is Ole Miss. The sordid history there has been well documented, but if you have the time you should definitely check out Steven Godfrey's long-form piece on the subject. Given the assumed prevalence of cheating in college football and relative rarity of any team actually ever getting caught, the fact that 4 out of the 9 teams listed above were later involved in scandals of varying degrees is telling. In a lot of cases, though, appearance on this list could be the result of a traditional recruiting powerhouse simply having a bad year (Geogia in 2011, Will Muschamp's 2014 Florida team), or former blue-blood program getting a jolt of energy from a new head coach in his first full recruiting class during a rebuild (Butch Jones, Tennessee 2014). A Closer Look at the Rivals The charts above can be hard to decipher given the 475 data points (on Figures 2, 4, and 6). I'm obviously interested to see look at what happens to all teams in the SEC and ACC, but what I'm most interested to see is how the Gamecocks compare to the two main rivals, Clemson and Georgia. Figure 11. 247 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings for South Carolina, Georgia, and Clemson each year over the period 2002-2018 vs each team's win total for the preceding year. As I have noted previously, South Carolina and Georgia have been very consistent this century in terms of recruiting ranking. Georgia just tends to recruiting about 14 spots better than SC on average. Georgia's average ranking is 6.9, with the standard deviation being an incredibly low 2.8. The Gamecocks' average is 20.7, with a relatively low standard deviation of 7.8. On the other hand, Clemson recruiting has been all over the place the last few 17 cycles. The average ranking is less than 1 better than SC's at 19.8, but the standard deviation is large at 11.4. Clemson has also demonstrated a lot more variance in terms of number of wins, driven by their rapid improvement in that area since the beginning of this decade. Figure 12. 247 Composite Team Recruiting Rankings for South Carolina, Georgia, and Clemson each year over the period 2002-2018 vs each team's average win total for the preceding four years. Look at how tight that Georgia data cluster is in Figure 12. None of the 28 teams viewed for this analysis came anywhere close to the same level of consistency in both recruiting and wins as Georgia has this century. Average Results by Team and Conference As a finale I thought it would be interesting to look at how each team in the SEC and ACC have performed on average for the past 17 years. In Figure 13 I've plotted that data, along with average values and trendlines for each conference. Figure 13. Average wins over the period 2001 - 2017 and average recruiting ranking over the period 2002 - 2018 for each team and conference. ACC teams have averaged 7.15 wins from 2001 to 2017, and had a average recruiting ranking of 39.1 from 2002 to 2018. SEC teams averaged 7.57 wins and a recruiting ranking of 24.0. Consider that the ACC and SEC both play 113 conference games each year (14 teams, 8 regular season conference games, 1 conference championship game). This means that each conference starts with a baseline average of 4.04 wins per team just from conference games. The SEC has therefore done a good bit better than the ACC in non-conference games and bowl games, with each team netting an average of 0.42 more wins per year. In total, SEC teams have accrued 1,801 wins over the past 17 years, while the ACC has exactly 100 less at 1,701. The head-to-head record between the two conferences over this period is 86-65 in favor of the SEC. This is a win percentage of 57.0%. The bottom-right of the chart is dominated by 4 SEC teams (Alabama, LSU, Georgia, and Florida), with an intrusion by only one ACC team (Florida State). The most representative ACC team based on averages is Pittsburg. For the SEC, the most representative team is .......... South Carolina. Looking at the data sets you can almost see two distinct groups, with the ACC teams forming a downward sloping line above the one formed by the SEC teams. The trendlines added for each conference highlight this, and you can see that these are almost parallel with one another. Overall data for the ACC teams tend to be above and to the left of that for the SEC teams. From just looking at the conference averages you can see that SEC teams recruit at a level about 15 spots above ACC teams. Looking at the trendlines you can also say that an average ACC team will win about 1.8 games more per year than an SEC team that recruits at the same level. Conclusions I started writing this post way back at the end of June, but as I progressed I kept getting ideas for things to add and other ideas about how to look at the original data. As a result it has grown much longer and more random than I initially intended. There are a lot of words written out above, but here are the main points I think you can draw from the various views of the data: Wins from the preceding year and two years back are nearly indistinguishable in terms of ability to predict recruiting ranking. Both show moderate linear correlation with recruiting, although a linear regression of the data only fits a little less than 25% of the results. The 4-year win average is much better at predicting recruiting rankings, as the data shows a moderately high correlation. A linear regression fits 35% of results. A team that averages less than 4 wins over a 4-year period will not be able to recruit at a Top 25 level. Conversely, a team that averages over 10 wins will almost certainly recruit at a Top 20 level. If a team has a single primary color and that color is blue, the team is most likely terrible. If a team improves (or reduces) it's win total, the magnitude of the improvement / reduction itself doesn't appear to have any impact on any change in the team's recruiting ranking. A team that wins less than 6 games and then hauls in a a Top 10 recruiting class will find itself mixed in with some disreputable company. The SEC has dominated the ACC since 2001 not only in head-to-head record, but also recruiting and total wins. See the table below for the details of the dataset used to create the above charts. 2 LIKES SHARE
  3. Daniel knows who will get the call on Thursday AUGUST 15, 2018 BY PHIL KORNBLUT LINK: SPORTSTALK DJ Daniel CB DJ Daniel of Georgia Military JC will announce his college commitment Thursday at 2:00 PM in the school gym with his family, coaches and teammates. Daniel has been considering USC, Georgia and Kentucky and he said Tuesday night he has made up his mind. “I feel like I have. I haven’t told any schools,” Daniel said. As for what he based his decision on, Daniel said, “Me feeling the defense scheme-wise. Just me visiting those schools, me feeling the comfort of how my family felt comfortable, and the communications I had with the coaching staff.” Recruiters from all three schools were in touch with him Tuesday. USC defensive coordinator and secondary coach Travaris Robinson has been heading up the Gamecocks’ recruiting efforts. “We talk every day. I feel comfortable. He knows how I rock and I know how he rocks,” Daniel said. “He asked me have I come to a conclusion and I told him I felt like I had. So, we’ll just see Thursday. There was no pressure. We just talked like we normally talk, like how camp is going and if I’m ready for Thursday. That’s really about it.” Daniel is from Griffin, GA. He was not heavily recruited coming out of high school so he had to prove himself last season and in camps this summer to draw those major offers. “It’s been a truly blessed journey, to do what I’ve been through,” he said. “I feel good. Now, I feel like focusing on this season, focusing on the classroom. I’ll be out in December.” Last season Daniel had 26 tackles and 3 interceptions. He also broke up 5 passes and blocked 3 kicks.
  4. Georgia safety looking forward to visiting the Gamecocks AUGUST 14, 2018 BY PHIL KORNBLUT LINK: SPORTSTALK Dedrrick Holmes USC has offered SAF Dedrrick Holmes of Evans, GA. Holmes is hearing a good bit from the Gamecocks at this point. He camped with the Gamecocks this summer and plans a return visit for the Georgia game. “They like the way that I vision the field and they like the way that I come down hill making tackles,” Holmes said of USC coaches Will Muschamp and Travaris Robinson. “They like the fact that I’m a good open field tackler, really the best in the CSRA. When they found out I had 9 interceptions, that was a big thing. He (Robinson) told me that if you have 9 interceptions in college, you’ll be one of the leaders in the nation. That surprised me.” Holmes said he talked with Muschamp and Robinson last week. Robinson is more in his ear than the head coach. “One of the guys that he wants,” Holmes said. “He wants me to continue to talk with Coach Muschamp and see him when I go up there for the Georgia game. He’s really looking forward to me to see him and come up there for games, and for a recruiting photo shoot.”” Holmes also has an offer from Liberty and is also hearing from Auburn and Troy. He plans to make a decision around mid-season. Along with his 9 interceptions last season, Holmes had 7 pass break ups and 49 tackles. He also caught 21 passes for 354 yards and 3 touchdowns.
  5. Four-star Columbia lineman, Gamecocks target updates recruitment August 13, 2018 Hammond defensive lineman Alex Huntley is ready for a big year on the field and a busy one off it. The four-star prospect will be spending many weekends visiting different colleges as he continues with his recruitment. Last month, Huntley attended Friday Night Lights at Florida at and the unveiling of the West End Zone project at Georgia. “Oklahoma, Texas, USC, Georgia, Ohio State, I’m really just trying to get to every school that I can think of and that’s possible, that we can afford,” Huntley said Saturday after the Skyhawks defeated Keenan at the Richland One Sportsarama. “I’m going to try to get to as many games as possible. The weeks that I’m not at another school, I’ll probably try to go to USC or something like that.” Arkansas , Michigan and Tennessee also recruiting Huntley. He will be at South Carolina for the Georgia game Sept. 8 and probably won’t be his only visit to the Gamecocks. “That program is always getting better, so I’m really excited to see what they’re going to do I’m excited to go to those games and they’re always doing better,” Huntley said of USC. “The SEC, it’s a great conference and they’re getting better in that conference.” Huntley said some schools stand out more than others but he doesn’t have a favorite list. “I really want to see everything I can so that when the time comes to commit, I’ll have no doubts,” Huntley said. Huntley and teammate Jordan Burch are two of the top prospects in the state for the Class of 2020. Burch has been quieter on his recruiting but visited Florida over the summer. He also spent time playing AAU basketball for the Carolina Wolves. Huntley and Burch were key parts on Hammond’s 2017 SCISA 3A title team. Hammond opens the season Friday against Charlotte Country Day. Huntley had 61 tackles and seven sacks last season and hopes to improve on that this year and help Hammond repeat as champions. “My expectation level is that I don’t think anyone should be able to block me. That being said I had to put in the work,” Huntley said. “Going to all those camps, working on my technique, track, and weight room. Everything you can do to get better, I have been able to do.”
  6. Holmes plans USC visit Saturday August 13, 2018 SAF Dedrrick Holmes of Evans, GA plans to unofficially visit USC Saturday at the invite of recruiter Travaris Robinson. USC has a scrimmage planned for Saturday. Holmes said Robinson is showing him a lot of interest and wants him to have recruiting photos made on his visit. Holmes has a USC offer and he camped there in June. He said he also recently heard from Clemson safeties coach Mickey Conn.
  7. Here’s how (and when) hometown USC target Cam Smith August 12, 2018 It’s going to be a big week for Cam Smith. The Westwood cornerback begins his senior season Friday when the Redhawks host Lugoff-Elgin. Following the game, Smith will announce where is going to college. “I’m not thinking about it (his announcement) too much,” Smith said following Westwood’s 22-13 win over A.C. Flora on Saturday at Richland One Sportsarama at Benedict College. “I’m game-planning on Lugoff and getting that out of the way because if we don’t win, I might not even commit if we don’t win.” Smith said last month he already has made his decision. On Saturday, Smith revealed how he will announce where he is going. He will wear a T-Shirt of his choice underneath his uniform and will reveal his choice when he takes off his shoulder pads. Smith plans to take all three of his official visits despite his announcement. The four-star has been in constant contact with all three of his final schools. “I talked to coach Smart (Georgia) last night and I text coach Muschamp (South Carolina) all the time. Coach Pruitt from Tennessee also has texted me too,” Smith said. Smith has connections with people at all three of his final schools. At South Carolina, he is friends with freshman defensive back Israel Mukuamu. The two train with the same person, Chachi Sullivan, in the offseason. “He (Mukuamu) doesn’t really recruit me. He just tells me, of all the schools, he just tells me to pick where I feel comfortable at, where I’m important at,” Smith said. With Georgia, he knows former Spring Valley linebacker Channing Tindall. The two played rec league football together and won three championships on Benedict’s field. He said Georgia coach Kirby Smart brings up Tindall’s name when they talk. His connection at Tennessee is former Dutch Fork standout Bryce Thompson. The two talked on his visit to Tennessee and again a few weeks ago. Smith said he has enjoyed the recruiting process but will be glad to make his choice known. “I know it is going to be kind of hectic,” Smith said. “There will be a lot of people asking me about stuff and why I chose the school I’m going to. I just got to get prepared for it.”
  8. Spartanburg RB Zykamren Robinson August 11, 2018 Spartanburg RB Zykamren Robinson said Virginia has been in touch recently after checking out scrimmage videos. He’s been invited to a game there but has not been offered. USC running backs coach Bobby Bentley remains in regular contact and has sent him a video of their running back drills. He talked with Will Muschamp last week. His offer list includes USC, Tennessee, Missouri, Purdue and Colorado State.
  9. How Will Muschamp is pitching a blue-chip recruit who plays with his son August 08, 2018 The last weekend in July offered football recruits a chance to hit the road a final time before the August dead period. Hammond High School 2020 defensive lineman Alex Huntley (6-foot-4, 285 pounds) took advantage of that to attend Friday Night Lights at Florida and the unveiling of the West End Zone Project at Sanford Stadium at Georgia. “It was really good just being able to really connect more with coaches and even meet some prospects who were visiting too,” Huntley said. “Florida, it was my first time being there, first time meeting the coaches really, so they were just, got to get me down there more and got to keep talking with them. Georgia, I’ve been there more and talked to their coaches more. They’re losing, like the 2020 class by the time I’d be there, they are going to be losing eight defensive linemen. And I’m one of their highly wanted guys. I think me and Coach (Tray) Scott relationship is really good. He’s a really great defensive line coach and I really like him.” Huntley has offers from South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee. He’s also drawn interest from Clemson and Ohio State. Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp, whose son is a teammate of Huntley’s, has made him a top target for the 2020 class. “One big thing is stay home,” Huntley said of Muschamp’s message. “They have everything for me that would make me a great player. Coach Muschamp is a defensive minded coach. Home is where the heart is, is what they say, and trying to get me out of that, ‘You have to get out of the city where you’re from.’ Since I’m from Maryland, I don’t really have any ties to any state or any colleges. My first time watching a college football game was when I moved down here. I wasn’t really raised watching college football, it was always about the NFL.” Huntley camped this summer at USC, Georgia, Florida and Ohio State and those are four he likes along with Arkansas and Tennessee. However, he’s not going to make a quick decision and is still open to all schools that want to recruit him. He has not heard from Clemson since the end of the school year but he plans to go to games there this season.
  10. DL Jaquaze Sorrells update August 08, 2018 DL Jaquaze Sorrells of Largo, FL talked with USC recruiter Travaris Robinson Tuesday saying Robinson was just checking up on him. USC remains one of the top schools for Sorrells who will announce on August 27th. He does not have any leaders at this point. Sorrells camped at USC in June and was back for a second look in late July when he made an unofficial visit with one of his trainers. He said some of the other schools he’s hearing from at this point are Alabama, Florida State, LSU and Oregon. Sorrells is a former Florida commitment.
  11. Two Gamecocks defensive targets closing in on decisions August 05, 2018 Tampa cornerback Johnny Dixon closed out the month of July with unofficial visits to Miami and Florida. He’s got four schools still on his list as he considers a decision within a matter of weeks. Dixon said he remains in steady contact with South Carolina recruiter Travaris Robinson and he credits the Gamecock defensive coordinator with having the Gamecocks in a strong position with him. “I like South Carolina,” Dixon said. “He (Robinson) wants me to come. He wants me to be a Gamecock. That’s my favorite coach. Through the whole process he’s got to be my favorite coach. I know for a fact they can develop me into the player I need to be.” Meanwhile, Georgia Military College defensive back D.J. Daniel announced a final three Monday of USC, Georgia and Kentucky. He plans to announce his commitment August 16. Daniel camped in Columbia in June and he also took an official visit to Georgia in June. Dixon took an official visit with the Gamecocks in June. He is scheduled for an official visit to Penn State in September and will also set one with Miami. Florida is the fourth school he’s still considering cutting Alabama and Ohio State from his list. Dixon said he could make his decision withing a few weeks but he will still take his official visits to the other schools. He does not claim a favorite at this point. USC added a defensive back transfer in Jamel Cook from Southern Cal.
  12. There’s a potential fifth player for DB Jaylen McCollough AUGUST 7, 2018 BY PHIL KORNBLUT LINK: SPORTSTALK Jaylen McCollough SAF Jaylen McCollough of Powder Springs, GA has been sitting on a final four of USC, Tennessee, Alabama and Auburn. But when the official offers began rolling in August 1st, McCollough received one from Georgia, and that gave him pause. “Coach Smart hit me up on that one and that’s a big thing, getting an in-state official offer. That was pretty big,” McCollough said. “It makes me still kind of look at UGA. It puts them in the mix a little bit but I’m still solely focused on those four.” Smart and the Bulldogs have some catching up to do, especially with USC and Tennessee working McCollough as long and as hard as they have. McCollough said USC coach Will Muschamp is in touch daily and is pushing for one of his official visits. He plans to take one for USC probably for the Georgia game. “South Carolina is definitely standing out,” McCollough said. “Them and Tennessee just by how hard they are recruiting me. I talk to Coach Muschamp on a daily (basis). You build the relationship with the head coach.” McCollough last visited USC for the spring game in March. His last recruiting visit was to Tennessee in late June. He said that visit showed him a different side of that program. “Just to see the coaches outside of the coaching aspect and more in the family aspect. It was a good experience,” McCollough said. McCollough said he does not plan a decision before his season because right now he’s focused on his team. He does plan to take official visits to his final four schools.
  13. Gamecocks football adds high-profile Southern Cal transfer August 06, 2018 He’s making a move from one USC to the other. South Carolina Gamecocks football picked up a transfer from Southern Cal in defensive back Jamel Cook, the school confirmed. The defensive back from Florida redshirted in 2016 and played sparingly last season. Out of high school, the 6-foot-4, 190-pounder was a four-star prospect, the No. 99 player in his class and No. 2 athlete. An injury forced him to sit out 2016, and he made two tackles in three games last season. Out of high school, he made the 2015 Prep Star All-American Dream Team, USA Today All-Florida second team and All-State Class 6A first team. He had offers from the likes of Alabama, Clemson, Florida, LSU, Miami and Wisconsin. Cook projects to sit out the 2019 season and would likely count toward the 25 scholorship players USC can bring in with the 2019 class. Jamel Cook at South Carolina’s Monday practice.
  14. CB Johnny Dixon focused on four at this point AUGUST 6, 2018 BY PHIL KORNBLUT LINK: SPORTSTALK Johnny Dixon CB Johnny Dixon of Tampa closed out the month of June with unofficial visits to Miami and Florida. He’s got four schools still on his list as he considers a decision within a matter of weeks. Dixon said he remains in steady contact with USC recruiter Travaris Robinson and he credits the Gamecock defensive coordinator with having the Gamecocks in a strong position with him. “I like South Carolina,” Dixon said. “He (Robinson) wants me to come. He wants me to be a Gamecock. That’s my favorite coach. Thru the whole process he’s got to be my favorite coach. I know for a fact they can develop me into the player I need to be.” Dixon took an official visit to USC in June. He is scheduled for an official visit to Penn State in September and will also set one with Miami. Florida is the fourth school he’s still considering cutting Alabama and Ohio State from his list. Dixon said he could make his decision withing a few weeks but he will still take his official visits to the other schools. He does not claim a favorite at this point.
  15. The Gamecocks Class of 2020 quarterback commit joined a Myrtle Beach news station to talk about his commitment decision
  16. Gamecocks are among the top schools with 2020 LB Kevin Swint August 04, 2018 Gamecocks are among the top schools with 2020 LB Kevin Swint of Carrollton, GA. The others are Clemson, Boston College, LSU, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Michigan, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Wisconsin.
  17. USC covets OL Darius Washington committed to Mississippi State AUGUST 3, 2018 BY PHIL KORNBLUT LINK: SPORTSTALK Darius Washington OL Darius Washington (6-4 285) of Pensacola, FL committed to Mississippi State in early June. But he has not shut down his recruiting and one to step thru that door was USC which officially offered earlier this week. USC head coach Will Muschamp and offensive line coach Eric Wolford have put the double-team recruiting effort on Washington. “Me and Coach Wolford and Coach Muschamp have built a relationship over the summer, talking every day over the summer,” Washington said. “Getting the South Carolina offer just showed me that my hard work has been paying off and I look forward to taking my official there.” Washington is looking at the Georgia weekend for his official visit to USC though that’s not set in stone. When he visits, it will be his first to USC. He’s already taken a liking to Wolford and Muschamp thru their conversations. “Coach Wolford is a good coach, he’s told me he’s been in the NFL so he knows to put guys in the NFL,” Washington said. “And, South Carolina in general, I like Coach Muschamp because he’s a great person in dealing with stuff besides football.” USC definitely will have a chance to impress Washington once he gets on campus, but he said it will take something really special to turn him away from the Bulldogs. “It’s going to be hard trying to change my mind,” he said. “With Mississippi State, the connection with the coaches is great. I love the community and I love the players that I’d be playing with and I love the overall school, just the people there.” Washington will take his official visit to Mississippi State for the Florida game. He also plans to take an official visit to Miami for the Florida State game.
  18. Zacch Pickens won’t be only member of his family playing for Gamecocks August 02, 2018 T.L. Hanna star Zacch Pickens will not play at South Carolina until the 2019 season, but one of his family members will be playing for the Gamecocks this year. Pickens’ brother, Kevin Pickens, is joining South Carolina’s football team as a walk-on defensive back. He will wear No. 32. It has been Zacch’s dream to play alongside his brother for years, and he will finally be able to do so in 2019. “This is all him, really,” Zacch said of his brother helping him to become the player he is today. “I didn’t want to play football, but he gave me the courage to play.” Zacch, who is a five-star recruit and the top-ranked member of USC’s recruiting class, started playing football in the backyard with his brother when he was about 8 years old. But he got tired of taking a beating from his older brother after a while and decided he was done with football. “Growing up he used to tear me up. He used to tear me up all the time,” Zacch recalled. “He used to be back there hitting me as hard as he can. I got sick of it so I quit.” But Kevin eventually helped motivate Zacch to become a stud defensive lineman. Kevin, who is 21, played several positions at T.L. Hanna before enrolling at Mars Hill for college, then leaving. Kevin’s success on the football field in middle school and high school convinced Zacch to give football another shot. “Seeing him make plays on the field, because he was a quarterback, running back, fullback, safety, he was everything on the field and I wanted to be just like him,” Zacch said. “That’s why I wear No. 6, because mine and his birthday are the same. Mine is March 6th and his is January 6th.” Zacch eventually started back playing football at the age of 12 and quickly realized he had a bright future in the sport. “I was 12 and went straight up to little league,” Zacch said.“The first time I ever (played) I got my first sack. I didn’t know how to react so I took it, lined back up and did it again. Then they started coming and clicking and here I am.” Kevin will be playing defensive back for the Gamecocks and Zacch, who recently said he is 100 percent committed to USC, believes Kevin has a chance to help the program. “It’s going to be super fun,” Zacch said. “That’s mine and his main goal, to play together at least one time.” Felicia Harris, the mother of Zacch and Kevin, can’t wait to see her two boys on the field together for the first time. “She’s really super proud of both of us because this was our main goal, playing together,” Zacch said. “She doesn’t have to go far and we’re both together and can watch each other.” THE STATE
  19. ‘The sky is the limit’ for new Gamecocks QB commit Luke Doty August 02, 2018 South Carolina’s newest commit Luke Doty has yet to play a full season at quarterback at the high school level as he split time with senior Lawson Cribb at the position last season. Doty played quarterback and receiver for Myrtle Beach in 2017, showing off his versatility by passing for nearly 700 yards and five touchdowns, rushing for 250 yards and one touchdown and catching 35 passes for 391 yards and five scores. But with Cribb graduating and Doty set to take over the quarterback job full time, Doty’s quarterback coach Ramon Robinson believes the rising junior is ready to have a breakout season in 2018. “He’s a complete quarterback. He has the ability to make every throw on the field and can also extend the play when needed. You’ve got a quarterback that has great leadership skills, his team follows him. I feel like the way he’s going right now he’s only going to continue to get better and better,” Robinson said. “All I’ve seen since I started training him is his ability to grasp information and to continue to improve. The sky is the limit for him.” Robinson, who is the founder of Elite Position Training and the EPT Football Academy, has helped produce a number of Division I quarterbacks, including Clemson’s Kelly Bryant, South Carolina’s Jay Urich and Georgia Southern’s Shai Werts. Robinson started working with Doty when he was in middle school and said Doty’s work ethic is something that has always impressed him. With Doty in Myrtle Beach and Robinson based out of the Upstate they do not train together as often as Robinson does with some other players, but he said when Doty is visiting family in the Upstate and they are able to work out, or when Robinson goes to Myrtle Beach or Columbia for a session, the two train for hours at a time. “He’s naturally hungry. He’s a perfectionist and he loves it. He’s not a kid that you have to motivate. It’s easy to be a trainer when a kid has energy and wants to compete and train more and more and more,” Robinson said. “He has that swagger that you want from a quarterback. He’s got that dog in him. I think he’s going to do great things when his time comes.” Doty, who is ranked as a four-star prospect and the No. 6 dual-threat quarterback in the nation for the class of 2020, is a special enough athlete that he could help South Carolina at a number of positions, according to Robinson. “He is athletic enough to where if things weren’t going his way, he’s a kid that can transition to another position. Not every quarterback that plays the game can do that,” Robinson said. “Some quarterbacks are just quarterbacks. But you’ve got some that do have the intangibles, the size and speed… He runs a 4.4 or a 4.5. He has the speed. I can see him only getting better speed wise as he gets stronger and faster once he gets to the University of South Carolina.” Still, Robinson made it clear that he believes Doty’s best position and his future is as a quarterback for the Gamecocks. “He’s a quarterback, let’s make that clear,” Robinson said. “He’s a quarterback with athletic abilities, not an athlete trying to play quarterback.”
  20. USC offers Florida OL Darius Washington August 02, 2018 USC offered OL Darius Washington of Pensacola, FL who has been committed to Mississippi State since early June. He also has offers from Miami, Pitt, Indiana, South Florida, Indiana, Texas A&M, Illinois, Ole Miss, Nebraska, UCF, and Louisville.
  21. RB Zykarmren Robinson on USC offer, “I’m their guy.” AUGUST 2, 2018 BY PHIL KORNBLUT LINK: SPORTSTALK Zykamren Robinson RB Zykamren Robinson 6'0" 225lbs of Spartanburg High reached double digits in offers Tuesday night when he got a call from USC recruiter Bobby Bentley. He announced the offer Wednesday night and is now focused on the Gamecocks, Tennessee and Missouri for a decision that could come in a matter of a few weeks. “I’m their guy, that’s what they are telling me, I’m their guy,” Robinson said. “I’m their guy. They want me at South Carolina. That’s where I’m supposed to be. They do want me there, no doubt about it.” Last season Robinson rushed for 915 yards and 7 touchdowns. He has sub 4.4 speed to go along with a 225 pound frame and feels he would be a perfect fit in the Gamecocks’ offense. “I feel like I can be a huge part of their offense,” he said. “I feel like I can go in and take the starting role and do what I’ve got to do. I can go inside, outside, catch the ball. I can do anything they ask me to do.” Robinson wears #21 for the Vikings, the same number of former Gamecock great Marcus Lattimore. He said the two of them are close and he values Lattimore’s opinions. “Honestly, he’s been the one I’ve been talking to mostly,” Robinson said. “I guess you could say he’s been helping them recruit me for South Carolina, but him as a person, too, has been a big role in how I feel toward South Carolina.” Robinson made a pair of visits to USC over the summer including one for a camp. He also attended the spring game and the Vanderbilt game last season. His only other visit this summer was to Tennessee. He has USC, Tennessee and Missouri as his top three from an offer list that also includes Colorado State, Purdue, Georgia Southern, East Carolina, Temple, Appalachian State and Old Dominion. USC has one running back commitment at this point n the 2019 class, Kevin Harris of Hinesville, GA.
  22. Gamecock target RB Gary sees ACC school August 01, 2018 USC target RB Tahj Gary of Atlanta visited Virginia Tech last weekend. He visited USC twice in June and has an official set with the Gamecocks for the Georgia weekend.
  23. Dixon down to 4 with decision coming August 01, 2018 CB Johnny Dixon visited Florida and Miami last weekend. He said he thinks he’ll commit within a couple of weeks and is down to USC, Miami, Florida and Penn State. He took an official to USC in June.
  24. 5-star USC commit is still hearing from other schools, but he’s all Gamecock August 01, 2018 She tweeted a response after someone I guess asked about the visiting Georgia rumors. It has been more than two months since T.L. Hanna High defensive end Zacch Pickens surprised many by announcing that he was ending the recruiting process and committing to South Carolina, but that hasn’t stopped schools from pursuing him. “They’re still saying that I didn’t officially sign so I could still go technically wherever I want,” Pickens recently told The State. Still, he has had no second thoughts about becoming a Gamecock. “I’m committed. I’m going to South Carolina for good,” Pickens said. Pickens and the rest of his T.L. Hanna teammates have started preparing for the upcoming season, and Pickens feels like a weight has been lifted off of his shoulders now that he has announced where he will play college football. “It’s been easy now, just smooth driving,” Pickens said. “I’ve got enough time to focus on what I need to focus on and that’s T.L. Hanna, and that’s it.” Pickens had known for some time where he was planning on attending school, according to T.L. Hanna coach Jeff Herron. But he was waiting to announce his destination because he wanted to help other teammates potentially land offers. “Originally he was wanting to wait until the very end, which is so unusual these days,” Herron recalled. “But his reason was, ‘Coach, the longer I wait the more schools are going to come, which is going to help my buddies.’ I thought, ‘Well, that’s a great idea.’ But when it came down to it, like most kids, the pressure started getting to him. He just really wanted to get it over with. I told him that time would come. “They love it to start with, and then after a while it begins to become a really old thing to them. They get tired of it. I think that’s what happened with him.” Pickens has set some big individual and team goals for the 2018 season, which begins Aug. 24 when the Yellow Jackets play at Emerald. “Going all the way, nonstop, keep going, don’t worry about anything,” Pickens said. “Injuries, I’m going to play through it. So do everything I can to let us get to the (championship). I’m going to try to get 26 sacks. Hold me to that. I’m going to try to get 26 and as many tackles as I can. But the goal is to get 26 sacks.” He is also going to try to make it to a few South Carolina games, including USC’s second game against Georgia. Pickens, who is rated as the No. 20 overall player in the class of 2018, is a big part of a South Carolina recruiting class that is ranked No. 17 nationally. He loves the talent the Gamecocks are assembling. “We’re going to be awesome. I can’t wait to get down there and show everybody what we can do,” he said. “We’ve got a whole bunch of D-linemen so I can’t wait to get with those guys and get to playing with them. It’s going to be fun.
  25. Gamecocks signee likely headed to prep school August 01, 2018 The last member of South Carolina football’s 2018 recruiting class almost assuredly won’t make it to campus for the coming season. Wide receiver Tyquan Johnson, a three-star prospect from Screven County High School in Georgia, did not qualify academically for the fall and is likely instead headed to prep school at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. He was the only player USC’s staff was waiting on. The hope is for him to enroll in the spring. The Big Spur first reported the news. As a high school senior, he caught 32 passes for 661 yards and 10 scores. Nearly two in five of his 94 career high school catches went for touchdowns. He was the No. 641 player in his class by the 247Sports composite rankings and the No. 100 receiver. At the time he signed, Will Muschamp said: “A guy that came to camp. He verticled 36 1/2 inches and broad jumped 10-foot-4. In a predominately running offense, he had 11 touchdown catches this year. Just an explosive guy. Coach Duncan has done a fantastic job over there. He’s a 6-3, 190-pound guy, a guy the came to camp and earned it. He earned his scholarship. We really liked his tape, but we wanted to see him work out. Sometimes as a receiver, tape can be a little deceiving. He just came to camp and killed it. Really excited, committed to us soon after that.”

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