Most of us have a pretty complicated relationship with National Signing Day. Even those who pay hundreds of dollars a year for access to the latest scoop (Garnet And Black Attack is 100 percent free, BTW) acknowledge that following the moment-by-moment mood swings of 18-year-olds is completely insane. Heck, you might even feel that way to some degree about actual college football. But even if you're the kind of recruiting fan who only pays attention on the first Wednesday in February, you would be well-served to savor this while you can. After all, this is pretty much it, football-wise, until August, a month that currently seems less like a real month that happens once every year than the moment of relief that washes over you immediately after dying of hypothermia.
And if you're a South Carolina fan, you have more reason to pay attention to National Signing Day this year than you have since Marcus Lattimore inked his National Letter of Intent in 2010. (You'll recall that Jadeveon Clowney waited to sign on his birthday, Feb. 14.) Two uncommitted four-star prospects at positions of dire need will feature Gamecock hats during their inevitable signing ceremony switcheroo, plus who say they're committed elsewhere even though one seems to believe them exactly.
As it stands, South Carolina has 17 commitments in the 2014 class, including 7 four-star prospects and 10 three-star prospects, good for the No. 23 class in the country, according to the 247Sports composite index. If the Gamecocks can get signatures from all four of their remaining targets while holding onto their committed players, they would be on track for a top 15 finish in the 2014 recruiting rankings.
Six months ago, four-star cornerback Wesley Green was on South Carolina's commitment list, but he and fellow Martin Luther King, Jr. (Lithonia, Ga.) teammate Arden Key (a member of the 2015 class) reneged on their pledges to the Gamecocks in September and decided to reopen their recruitment. Entering National Signing Day, USC is still the odds-on favorite to land the 5'11, 170-pound cornerback prospect, with Georgia thought to be a distant second. Green was scheduled to make his official visit to Athens last weekend, but the No. 16 cornerback in the 2014 class backed out on those plans at the last minute, a strong signal that he intends to sign with the Gamecocks.
Green will announce his decision at 5 p.m. EST on FOX SportsSouth.
Four-star cornerback Chris Lammons of Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Plantation decommitted from Florida on Jan. 9, and South Carolina and Wisconsin have been the front-runners for his services ever since. The vast majority of recruiting experts think the 5'9, 170-pound cornerback, will ultimately be a Gamecock, but Lammons' words and actions would seem to indicate that things are about even. Even though Columbia is much closer to home than Madison, Lammons' good friend and former Plantation High teammate Sojourn Shelton is a rising sophomore for the Badgers.
Lammons will announce his final decision at 1 p.m. EST.
Committed Elsewhere, We Think
Considering that four-star defensive tackle Dexter Wideman. has been committed to Florida State since July, there's a surprising amount of confidence in South Carolina circles that the Saluda, S.C. native will sign with the Gamecocks. The 6'4, 255-pound defensive tackle visited Tallahassee on Jan. 31, however, and that trip seems to have given the Seminoles some momentum heading in to National Signing Day. Even though the Gamecocks have equipped themselves well to replace All-American defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles, adding Wideman is important because he has the versatility to play defensive end before he fills out, and that's a position at which he could potentially make a huge contribution as a true freshman.
Wideman will announce his decision at 2:45 p.m. EST.
If three-star defensive end Blake McClain signs with the Gamecocks on Wednesday morning, he will do so without having ever stepped on South Carolina's campus. Still, the nation's No. 22 strong-side defensive end insisted on Monday evening that he was torn 'fifty-fifty' between USC and Nebraska. McClain committed to the Huskers on Feb. 1 following a last-minute official visit to Lincoln.
McClain will announce his decision at 9:00 a.m. EST. Click here for the backstory on the Gamecocks' involvement with Jacksonville (Fla.) defensive lineman.
After briefly causing Gamecock fans to lose their minds, four-star outside linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams reaffirmed his commitment to South Carolina following his official visit to Georgia on Jan. 31. The 6'1, 222-pound Ellenwood, Ga. native is the No. 102 player in the 2014 class and the most highly-rated player of the Gamecocks' current commitments. Even though the Gamecocks return starting experience at each of their linebacker positions in 2014, it's going to be hard to keep to keep a talent like Allen-Williams' off the field. Don't be surprised to see him work his way into Kirk Botkin's linebacker rotation or, at the very least, make an impact on special teams.
With Jadeveon Clowney and Chaz Sutton off the NFL, the Gamecocks will be breaking in several fresh faces at defensive end. If he qualifies academically, one of those will likely be four-star defensive end Dante Sawyer. The 6'2, 262-pound defensive lineman committed to South Carolina on Dec. 17 over offers from college football royalty such as Auburn, Alabama, LSU, and Ohio State.
SB Nation recruiting analyst Bud Elliott evaluated Sawyer last spring:
Dante Sawyer is one of the best edge defenders in the country. At 6'3 and 240 pounds, he is capable of playing defensive end in a 4-3 defense or outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Sawyer stars for Suwanee (GA) North Gwinnett High School. He is a consensus four-star recruit and is rated by most as one of the 10 best defensive ends nationally.
Sawyer has good, but not great quickness off the snap. What he does do very well, however, is convert speed to power by staying low and getting the most out of his power body. He has some pass-rushing moves, though they'll need some refinement at the next level. Importantly, he seems to have a plan. He sets up his man and works one move off another, understanding positioning and spacing.
His football smarts are also evident against the run. Sawyer shows good functional strength and is willing to fight opposing blockers. He plays low and with good balance, maintaining a good football position from which to make tackles. Sawyer really seems to have a good idea of how to play football; he is not the typical high school speed rusher who runs around at full speed without a plan.
Because of his fundamentals and understanding of the game, Sawyer could play early at a BCS school if the depth chart is right. He could eventually play at 255-260 pounds, and should be plenty productive.
The Gamecocks' 2014 offensive line class is a small one, and Donell Stanley is a big reason that Shawn Elliott felt comfortable standing pat with just a pair of offensive guards. The 6'4, 330-pound lineman committed to South Carolina on Oct. 11 and, despite being a four-star recruit and the No. 151 overall player in the 2014 class, will likely redshirt during his first year in Columbia. This, however, has as much to do with South Carolina's depth at offensive line and a philosophical preference for redshirting first-year offensive linemen.
Signing Ceremony Schedule
|Time (EST, subject to change)||Player||247Sports Composite Rating||Position Rank||Choices||Crystal Ball|
|8:00 a.m.||Kalan Ritchie||*** (86)||No. 28 TE||Signed with South Carolina||---|
|8:15 a.m.||Jhaustin Thomas||*** (87)||No. 5 JUCO WDE||Signed with South Carolina||---|
|8:30 a.m.||Joe Blue||*** (85)||No. 31 ILB||Signed with South Carolina||---|
|9:00 a.m.||Blake McClain||*** (87)||No. 22 SDE||Signed with South Carolina||72% Nebraska|
|Michael Scarnecchia||*** (81)||No. 72 PRO QB||Signed with South Carolina||---|
|10:00 a.m.||Shaq Davidson||**** (92)||No. 30 WR||Signed with South Carolina||---|
|Bryson Allen-Williams||**** (95)||No. 8 OLB||Signed with South Carolina||---|
|Darin Smalls||*** (87)||No. 37 S||Signed with South Carolina||---|
|Taylor Stallworth||*** (87)||No. 49 DT||Signed with South Carolina||---|
|11:00 a.m.||Kevin Crosby||**** (89)||No. 10 TE||Signed with South Carolina||---|
|11:30 a.m.||Malik Young||*** (86)||No. 31 OG||Signed with South Carolina||---|
|1:00 p.m.||Chris Lammons||**** (92)||No. 21 CB||Signed with South Carolina||93% South Carolina|
|1:10 p.m.||Tyshun "Deebo" Samuel||*** (85)||No. 109 WR||Signed with South Carolina||---|
|2:00 p.m.||Donell Stanley||**** (93)||No. 10 OG||Signed with South Caorlina||---|
|2:45 p.m.||Dexter Wideman||**** (93)||No. 14 DT||Signed with South Carolina||100% South Carolina|
|3:00 p.m.||Al Harris, Jr.||*** (86)||No. 44 CB||Signed with South Carolina||---|
|3:45 p.m.||Terry Googer||*** (88)||No. 55 WR||Signed with South Carolina||---|
|5:00 p.m.||Wesley Green*||**** (93)||No. 16 CB||Signed with South Carolina||87% South Carolina|
|6:45 p.m.||Dante Sawyer||**** (95)||No. 5 WDE||Signed with South Carolina||---|
|7:00 p.m.||D.J. Smith||**** (92)||No. 20 CB||Signed with South Carolina||---|
*Wesley Green will be making his announcement on FOX SportSouth, which is a channel that you might not get if you live in the SportsNorth.
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