South Carolina closed the 2014 recruiting cycle with a bang, and with four players already committed the Gamecocks are off to a strong start in 2015. Steve Spurrier and his staff have secured pledges from a trio of top-200 defenders and a three-star receiver who is seeing his offer sheet grow by the day. The current group of commits combine to give South Carolina the No. 14 class in the country early in the 2015 cycle.
With a 247Sports composite score of .9890 and a five-star rating, the Bluffton (S.C.) High School defensive end is the highest rated of the four committed players for 2015. Currently, Blackshear is ranked the No. 1 weak side defensive end in the country and the No. 1 overall prospect in the state of South Carolina. At 6'5 and 240 pounds, the Bluffton product is already a physical specimen coming of the last five star defensive end to come out of the Palmetto State -- Jadeveon Clowney. Though not quite the athlete Clowney is, Blackshear has both the speed and power to dominate offensive tackles. Everette Sands and Deke Adams are recruiting Blackshear and were able to secure a commitment from the big-time talent last May.
At 6'1 215 pounds, four-star linebacker Sherrod Pittman already has the look of a weakside linebacker in the Gamecocks' defensive scheme. Hailing from the the talent-rich First Coast High in Jacksonville, FL, Pittman picked the Gamecocks last July over Florida and over 25 Division I offers. Steve Spurrier, Jr. recruits the Jacksonville area and did a great job of building a relationship early on with Pittman, who also has a good relationship with current Gamecock graduate assistant and former Gamecock linebacker Shaq Wilson. Wilson is a First Coast alumnus and was instrumental in landing the four-star linebacker's commitment.
Pittman's film shows that he is a very physical, instinctive linebacker that looks to create contact. He already possesses great size as a high school junior and has the sideline to sideline speed to chase down ball carriers and receivers. If he has a productive senior season, other schools will look to turn up the heat on their recruitment of the talented linebacker.
Rivers is rated as a four-star weakside defensive end with great size at 6'3, 225 pounds. Rivers also plays tight end in high school and is very versatile prospect. Lorenzo Ward has recruited Rivers to play defensive end and that is where he projects to play in Columbia. Ward recruited Rivers out of Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson, and in doing so, has created a nice pipeline to Columbia from the Atlanta Metro high school. The Gamecocks currently have four Stephenson High Jaguars on the roster, including running back Mike Davis, cornerback Ali Groves and safeties Kyle Fleetwood and Kadetrix Marcus.
Rivers is very explosive off the ball and was very impressive on the camp circuit as a junior. During a camp at UGA in 2013, Rivers consistently fared extremely well against five-star offensive tackle and Clemson commitment Mitch Hyatt. He will continue to play both defensive end and tight end his senior year and has said that he plans to take trips to several schools' junior days this spring. Though he will be courted by many other big-time programs, Rivers is good friends with newly signed cornerback Wesley Green and former Gamecock commit and top 2015 defensive end target Arden Key. South Carolina is in very good position to sign the four star defensive end in February of 2015.
Neal is a teammate of Chauncey Rivers at Stephenson High and would be the 6th player from that school on the Gamecocks roster if he signs next February. While only rated a three star prospect by 247 Sports, Neal has nice size as he stands 6'2 195 pounds. Neal is also very close with 2014 signee Bryson Allen-Williams and like Allen-Williams, possesses a very high motor and intense work ethic.
Neal's film shows that he has good body control and is able to shield defensive backs from his vantage point. He also high points the football when attempting to make a reception and makes catches with his hands, not his body. With his size and work ethic, Neal could certainly work his way into the rotation at receiver once he arrives on campus.