The returns are starting to come in from South Carolina's big recruiting showcase last weekend: Kelsey Griffin has committed to Carolina. Griffin is rated the 5th-best DT and the 79th best prospect overall by 247 Sports. He's the eighth-best prospect in the state of Georgia. He ranks just slightly behind Larenz Bryant as the most highly sought-after commitment South Carolina has garnered this year. This was a big get for Carolina. (See what SB Nation's Bud Elliott has to say about this commitment here.)
Griffin's recruitment was a strange one. He reportedly liked Georgia throughout the process, in part because he hails from Mill Creek HS, which is northeast of Atlanta. He's close to his family and wanted to stay close to them. However, Georgia has been lukewarm on him throughout the process, largely because the 290-pound Griffin isn't big enough to play nose tackle and is too big to play DE in Todd Grantham's 3-4 defense. He's a perfect fit for DT in Carolina's 4-3 scheme, and Carolina was able to get in the mix by selling Griffin on how well he'd play into our plans. However, Griffin still apparently chose the Dawgs--only to find out that UGA didn't want him when they didn't accept his recent attempt to commit to Georgia. Apparently, Georgia decided that Griffin's offer wasn't commitable at the time. Griffin was understandably embarrassed after publicly committing to his dream school only to be rebuffed, but he moved on. A lot of people thought the Gamecocks would get him after that point, and one can presume that Griffin decided South Carolina would be a pretty fun place to play football after he got to watch Carolina depants UGA over the weekend. Now he's a Gamecock.
Frankly, it's hard to say whether UGA made the right decision here--on the one hand, they're looking for a certain type of player at defensive tackle, but on the other hand, I wonder how much they can afford to alienate local coaches, particularly considering the inroads programs like Carolina and Clemson are making in Georgia's old stomping grounds. In any event, their loss is our gain. Griffin is an elite prospect by any measure who could have played anywhere in the nation--other than Georgia, apparently. He also fills an important void for Carolina, which had missed on some elite DT prospects, most notably Michael Hill, a local SC product who surprised a lot of people by choosing to play for Urban Meyer at Ohio St. Carolina needed to bring in a guy like Griffin to round out the defensive line talent in this class, and we now have our guy. Welcome to USC, Mr. Griffin.