NCF On The Trail: South Carolina Gamecocks

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

October, 28, 2014
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As always there was a ton of recruiting news from around the Southeastern Conference. There were a few big commitments, key visits and new offers over the weekend. Here’s a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the SEC.

UA jersey tour: D'Anfernee McGriff

October, 22, 2014
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- ESPN 300 athlete D’Anfernee McGriff was presented with his Under Armour All-America Game jersey Wednesday afternoon in a ceremony sponsored by American Family Insurance. The ceremony took place in front of family, friends and teammates at Leon High School's indoor practice facility in Tallahassee, Florida.

Leon head coach Tim Cokely said his star prospect suffered through a personal tragedy that helped mold him into the person he is today.

"When I first got here he was kind of living with his uncle and his uncle died of a heart attack, and I think that really shaped him,” Cokely said. "So he rededicated himself to football at that time and that really paid off. He’s a laid-back guy, likes to laugh and likes to make every one else laugh.”

McGriff has been committed to Auburn as an athlete since April and Cokely thinks his star quarterback can do multiple things for the Tigers.

"On the field, we’ve been fortunate now. We’ve had a lot of good players play for us since ’89. He’s got a unique skill set. I think he has NFL arm talent. I’ve signed 10 Division 1 quarterbacks, which is the most in the country by five, so he’s No 11 but he’s got the ability to run and throw. I’m not sure how Auburn will use him but he can do a lot of things with his arm and legs. He can probably throw the ball about 80 yards.”

Depsite being committed to Auburn several teams continue to pursue the 207th-ranked player in the country.

“South Carolina and Miami are still on me pretty hard right now,” McGriff said. "I’m pretty solid to Auburn, though. I like it up there."

Eight questions with D'Anfernee McGriff

Who is one player you are looking forward to competing against?

McGriff: I know I want to go against Kevin Toliver, the No. 1 defensive back. He’s the best, so I want to go against the best.

If you were to start a team with any other player in your class, who would it be?

DM: I’d start with Trenton Thompson. He’s a big dude and you need big defensive linemen.

Who is the best player to ever play in the Under Armour game that you know of?

DM: Definitely Jameis Winston.

What is your earliest football memory?

DM: My earliest football memory, I was just a few years old but Tamarick Vanover was my uncle and he played football. I never really knew what was going on but I’d watch it on TV.

Which football player did you idolize or be like when you were a kid?

DM: I’d say Michael Vick, because I’m left-handed and can run, too. I tried to model my game after him.

If you could take on any pro player in their sport, who would it be?

DM: Definitely LeBron James, just to be on the same court with the best player in the world.

What number do you wear?

DM: I wore No. 11. But in the spring we had a battle and whoever won the battle would wear No. 1 during the spring game, but I liked wearing it, so now that’s what I wear.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

DM: I actually came to Leon to play basketball. But I don’t play anymore, I’m just a football guy now.

ESPN 300: Five things to know in the SEC 

October, 22, 2014
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The SEC has an impressive 89 committed prospects in the updated ESPN 300 rankings. While the SEC West has been dominant on the field, 13 of the 14 SEC schools are ranked in the top 40 of the RecruitingNation class rankings. Here’s a closer look at five things to know in the SEC from the new recruiting rankings.


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ESPN 300: Five who could flip 

October, 22, 2014
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The Class of 2015 has seen more than 35 prospects in the ESPN 300 flip or decommit during the cycle. As many as 30 more prospects in the ESPN 300 could flip between now and national signing day. With that possibility in mind, here are five to keep tabs on less than four months away from national signing day.


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Randy Edsall knows recruiting is the lifeblood of his program, and he is really impressing local coaches with his effort. Plus, don’t be surprised if you see NC State finish with a flurry.

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ESPN’s RecruitingNation released the updated class ranking for 2015 on Wednesday. Of course, Alabama remains in the top spot, but will be challenged by Georgia and Florida State for the top spot come National Signing Day.

Looking deeper into the class rankings, five teams off to poor starts could have a difficult time holding off rival teams for top recruits, including:

South Carolina

One could argue that the Gamecocks aren’t in need of a strong close in 2015 with 28 prospects already committed and a current place in the Top 10 classes, but needs remain on defense at tackle, linebacker, and cornerback for sure. A 6-6 or 7-5 season could make it tough to close, and give momentum to others trying to flip South Carolina commitments. Closing on Florida State defensive tackle commit and South Carolina native D.J. Jones could be tough, because the Seminoles remain atop the polls, and Clemson and Alabama are also possibilities. The same can be said for ESPN300 athlete Darius Slayton, who will likely choose between Georgia and South Carolina with a preference for wide receiver at the next level.

Miami (FL)

There was increased excitement headed into the 2014 season with the NCAA cloud lifted, and a number of exciting playmakers returning on offense. Throw in the otherworldly start to the 2016 class with seven ESPNJr300 pledges, and it looked like the Hurricanes were set up for a big finish in 2015 with momentum. Now 3-3 with a 6-6 finish a real possibility, the Hurricanes are no longer in the closing position. In fact, holding onto ESPN300 running back Dexter Williams could be difficult, and the Hurricanes have already lost ESPN300 tight end Bowman Archibald to Wake Forest. The Miami (FL) staff will be working hard to keep prospects such as Williams and ESPN300 linebacker Charles Perry in the fold, while attempting to finish the 2015 class that is need of playmakers and pass-rushers on defense.


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Help is on the way: SEC 

October, 8, 2014
Oct 8
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Almost midway through the season and teams such as Arkansas and Texas A&M have shown the obvious strengths of their teams with their running backs and wide receivers, respectively. But in most cases every team has an apparent weakness, too. Here’s a closer look at how each team in the SEC will address its needs through recruiting.


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The 2015 ESPN Junior College Watch List is comprised of more than 200 prospects who will be evaluated for a position inside the Juco 50. Here is a snapshot of six prospects, three skill and three non-skill, who have impressed in the early evaluations.


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Best of the visits: SEC

October, 5, 2014
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From the Ole Miss win over Alabama to Kentucky’s big come-from-behind win over South Carolina, there were some incredible games around the SEC over the weekend. Several prospects attended the games, while others watched on television and used social media as a platform to share their experiences. Here's a look at some of the top social media posts from the weekend around the SEC:

Five-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson took a visit to Ole Miss for its huge 23-17 win over Alabama. Jefferson tweeted out a few different photos of his experience in Oxford, Mississippi. Florida, Alabama and Florida State seemed to have been the favorites for Jefferson, but Ole Miss certainly helped its chances of landing the talented pass rusher.

 
The nation’s No. 2-ranked outside linebacker, Roquan Smith, also visited Ole Miss this weekend. The four-star athlete tweeted out a picture of himself on the sidelines at the game. Ole Miss has made a big run at the talented prospect.

 
ESPN 300 wide receiver Ryan Newsome took a photo of Katy Perry, who was also on the sidelines for the Rebels' big win.

 
Auburn hosted several key visitors for its big 41-7 win over LSU on Saturday. ESPN 300 linebacker Jeffery Holland was on hand and tweeted out a few different photos and videos of his experience, including one of himself alongside five-star defensive tackle Trenton Thompson.

 
Despite losing 10-9 to Florida on Saturday, Tennessee still had some big visitors on campus. ESPN 300 defensive end Ricky DeBerry tweeted out a photo of the field at Tennessee and recent defensive tackle commit Shy Tuttle tweeted out a photo of himself and a friend.

 
Kentucky had a thrilling come-from-behind victory over South Carolina on Saturday night, and several recruits were in attendance. Three-star defensive end Kengera Daniel tweeted a photo of himself along with Kentucky true freshman Kendall Randolph.

 
The No. 1-ranked running back in the ESPN 300, Damien Harris, has been to Kentucky numerous times over the last several months. He was once again in Lexington for Saturday's game. What seemed like a long shot for Kentucky is now seeming like a real possibility of landing this elite athlete.

 
Mississippi State safety commit Jamal Peters was impressed with how well the Bulldogs played against Texas A&M on Saturday. After the thrilling win, it was announced that ESPN’s "College Gameday" would be in Starkville next Saturday for Mississippi State’s game against SEC West opponent Auburn.

 

Early Offer: Why MSU going big in 2015 

September, 30, 2014
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What happens when you have a large senior class about to graduate? You target a large recruiting class like Mississippi State is in 2015. Michigan’s recruiting remains in chaos, as another Wolverine commit is having second thoughts.


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SEC's top recruiting visits 

September, 26, 2014
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There are once again some big games around the SEC this weekend. While Arkansas vs Texas A&M might be the game of the week in the conference, it is a neutral site game and not many visitors are expected to attend. The Tennessee at Georgia game, however, is expected to draw many top recruits. Vanderbilt at Kentucky and Missouri at South Carolina should also expect to see some important visitors. There will be many recruits taking unofficial visits and even a few taking a few official visits. Here’s a closer look at some top expected visitors for the weekend.


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Early Offer: Could LSU lose RB pledge? 

September, 15, 2014
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Should LSU fans be worried that Tigers running back commit Nick Brossette plans to take official visits to other schools, and South Carolina's defense is about to get even better thanks to JUCO linebacker Davon Durant?


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Best of the visits: SEC

September, 14, 2014
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There were some great games around the SEC over the weekend. Several prospects attended games and used social media as a platform to share their experiences. Here's a look at some of the top social media posts:

The No. 2-ranked inside linebacker in the country, Roquan Smith, visited South Carolina for its 38-35 victory over Georgia. The Under Armour All-American tweeted out a picture of his family in Williams-Brice Stadium. Georgia is one of Smith’s favorite schools, while South Carolina has fallen behind. A big win against the Bulldogs could have given the Gamecocks a boost.



Former Florida defensive back commit Marcus Lewis is still considering Kentucky and Florida. The four-star prospect might not have attended the game, but Lewis was definitely watching on TV. The ESPN 300 prospect tweeted out his thoughts on how Kentucky looked.



David Womack tweeted a picture of his son, Matt Womack, an LSU commit, with Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Womack has been committed to LSU since July, but it appears the Alabama offer could give this three-star offensive lineman something to think about.



Five-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson, despite suffering a shoulder injury Friday night, visited Florida for the third consecutive week. In this photo he tweeted out, Jefferson is in the Florida locker room holding a “Chucky” doll. The doll, which is usually taken through the Gator Walk prior to the game, is a recent Florida defensive tradition started by New England Patriots defensive tackle and former Florida player Dominique Easley and passed down to defensive end Dante Fowler Jr.



ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Brandon McIlwain poses with his mom for a photo in front of Williams-Brice Stadium. McIlwain has narrowed down his choices to South Carolina, Duke, Florida, Auburn, Penn State and Virginia Tech. The strong-armed quarterback is one of the top signal-callers in the country for 2016.



Miami running back commit Dexter Williams visited Florida for its thrilling 36-30 victory over Kentucky. Despite his commitment to the Hurricanes, the Gators have continued to pursue Williams. Williams tweeted about his time in Gainesville.



2017 OL prospect Jack Anderson, who already holds offers from Arizona State, New Mexico, Texas Tech and UAB, visited Texas A&M for its 38-10 victory over Rice on Saturday night.

UA jersey tour: DE Arden Key

September, 12, 2014
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HAPEVILLE, Ga. -- ESPN 300 defensive end Arden Key was presented with his Under Armour All-America Game jersey Friday afternoon in a ceremony sponsored by American Family Insurance. The ceremony took place in the cafeteria of Hapeville Charter in front of the entire senior class, family members, the football staff, faculty members and teammates.

Hapeville Charter head coach Winston Gordon sees a bright future for his star player.

"Since Arden transferred here, he has done everything we have asked him to do," Gordon said. "He is filling out. He's gained 20 pounds since he transferred here. He has the frame to hold around 260 pounds. He has the potential to be like some of the top ends that have played in the Under Armour Game. He's an edge rusher with a motor."

After committing originally to South Carolina in June of 2013 then backing off that pledge, Key committed for good to the Gamecocks on June 3, citing his relationship with defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward with the overall comfort level he felt around him being the difference. Key considered offers from Clemson, Auburn, Michigan, Miami, Alabama and Kentucky, among others, throughout the process.

 

Eight questions with Arden Key

Who is one player you are looking forward to competing against?

Key:
Not an offensive lineman. It's Josh Sweat because he's the No. 1 ranked defensive end, and I want to show the world I am better than him.

If you were to start a team with any other player in your class, who would it be and why?

Key:
It would probably be Taj Griffin. He's elusive, he can make anything happen at any point in a game, and he fits the college game very well.

Who is the best player to ever play in the Under Armour game that you know of?

Key:
That's hard to say because there is a lot of great players to come out of the game. There is Clowney, Julio Jones ... it's really hard to say who is the best player yet.

What is your earliest football memory? What about college football?

Key:
My very first practice when I first started playing football. I was six and I got trucked. I started crying, but ever since then I have been working at it. That moment hasn't come around very often since then [laughing]. My first memory of college football was a hit by an Auburn player that knocked a Georgia receiver unconscious. I don't even remember who the players were, but it was the hit I remember.

Which football player did you idolize or want to be like when you were a kid?

Key:
Ray Lewis. He brings so much excitement to the game. When you listen to him, you are going to hear something football-wise that is going to hit you.

If you could take on any pro player in their sport, who would it be?

Key:
Aldon Smith because he gets after the quarterback. You can tell he has been working technique wise to get to the quarterback. I would like to work with him more than take any one player on.

What number do you wear and why?

Key:
Right now I wear 11. The reason I wear it is it looks good [laughing]. I always wanted to wear that number since I was a little kid. There is not any specific reason why. It doesn't matter what number I wear in college though.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Key:
I'm not a selfish guy. All these accolades and stuff that I have received, I try to use it to bring my teammates up and help them get an offer. I'm not selfish.

SEC's top recruiting visits 

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
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There are much better games on tap this weekend in the SEC than last. Without question the top game this weekend happens on Saturday when the Georgia Bulldogs head to Columbia, South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks. There will be many recruits taking unofficial visits and even a few taking a few official visits. Here is a closer look at some top expected visitors.

Georgia at South Carolina

With 27 verbal commits South Carolina is pretty much full for its 2015 class except for maybe a few remaining spots. One big unofficial visitor this weekend will be Roquan Smith, the No. 2-ranked outside linebacker in the ESPN 300. Georgia is one of his top teams, so he could just be going to see the Bulldogs, but any chance a school gets to have a top recruit on campus, there is always a possibility he could be impressed by what he sees. With their 2015 class almost full, South Carolina will turn to their 2016 class. Three junior prospects, all ranked in the top 50 of the ESPN Junior 300, are expected to be in attendance. The trio consists of quarterback Brandon McIlwain, tight end Isaac Nauta and athlete Mecole Hardman.


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