The whole Manti Te'o fake girlfriend thing sure has been a nice distraction from the reminder that Ace Sanders is turning pro, but the Gamecocks still aren't losing quite as much talent as some of their SEC peers. In fact, three of South Carolina's 2013 opponents made Travis Haney's list of the ten teams losing the most talent. And Haney tweeted that a fourth, Florida, just missed making the list.
One of South Carolina's losses that will be most heavily felt is D.J. Swearinger, who seemed to fly a bit under the radar in terms of national coverage. Flying under the radar, of course, is contrary to D.J.'s very nature, but I imagine that this is one of many unintended consequences of sharing a field with Jadeveon Clowney. Anyway, Swearinger's instinctive, intelligent, and aggressive play has earned the attention of pro scouts, but NFL.com's Josh Norris is the first analyst I've seen projecting Jungle Boi Swagg into the first round.
2013 Football Recruiting
The Gamecock football team kicks off a massively important weekend of official visits today, with several current 2013 commits coming to town, joined by and a handful of uncommitted prospects with whom South Carolina would very much like to fill out its class. Among the uncommitted, the headliners are OT Na'Ty Rodgers, LB Yannick Ngakoue, LB Skai Moore, LB Jonathan Watson, and DT Deadrin Senat.
A common thread among this group is that they have all at some point been committed or nearly committed to another program. Ngakoue, Moore, Watson, and Senat were previously committed Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State, and Florida State, respectively. Rodgers came very close to committing to Maryland during the Under Armour All-America Bowl but decided to postpone his decision. The scuttlebutt is that Rodgers' decision to forestall his college selection was good news for the Gamecocks and that, though not the clear leader they were during the summer, have a good chance of obtaining a commitment from the Marylander.
Phil Kornblut has a comprehensive list of this weekend's visitors.
Florida defensive tackle Keith Bryant was considering making the trip to Columbia this weekend but decided instead to official to Miami, where he is currently committed. Bryant will decided between Alabama, LSU, and South Carolina for his final official visit during the first week of February. The Gamecocks once appeared to have an above average shot to flip Bryant, whose commitment to the Hurricanes has been tenuous at times, but that window appears to have closed and USC looks to be a longshot for the services of the Delray Beach standout.
Another elsewhere-committed prospect that the Gamecocks seemed to have a great show with was Georgia CB Shaq Wiggins, but Wiggins tweeted on Thursday night that he has reaffirmed his commitment to the Bulldogs:
RT @shaqwiggins21: So for all reporters I canceled the rest of my OV's. I've decided to stay commited to UGA and display my talents there.— Chris Clark (@GCChrisClark) January 18, 2013
Before Wiggins went public with that news, the USC staff tipped off their lack of confidence in pulling in the four star cornerback when word got out that their interest in a two star Florida defensive back had intensified:
The #Gamecocks now showing significant interest in DB Justin Williams, Treasure Coast coach Irvin Jones says.— Jeff Greer (@jeffgreer) January 17, 2013
After losing Brendan Langley and missing out on Wiggins, USC finds itself with a paucity of defensive backfield talent in its 2013 class. Because Rico McWilliams and Chaz Elder redshirted during their first year on campus and the Gamecocks were able to land JUCO transfer and early enrolle Ronnie Martin, having a weaker cornerback class shouldn't be a glaring problem a few years down the road, but it will make 2014 a year where South Carolina may need to bring in three or four cornerbacks to ensure that they have adequate depth at that position going forward.
Another position where the 2013 class is lacking is wide receiver, a position at which South Carolina hasn't received - and isn't expected to receive - a single commitment. The USC staff has, however, extended a preferred walk-on offer to Dutch Fork wideout Jordan Berry.
2014 Football Recruiting
Four star LB/DE Bryson Allen-Williams has previously gone on record naming the Gamecocks as his favorite. As of Thursday, that was still the case:
#gamecocknation still my lone leader— CGHS #4.... #11 ⚾ (@WatchOut4_11) January 17, 2013
Allen-Williams will be making a visit to Columbia in early February. If you take a peek through his Twitter timeline, it wouldn't seem out of the question for the Cedar Grove star to make himself the USC's first commitment of the 2014 cycle. On Thursday evening he took to Twitter in an effort to sway five star linebacker Raekwon McMillan to bring his talents to Columbia:
Somewhat buried in the insanity of girlfriend-gate was the basketball team's 82-73 overtime road victory over the LSU Tigers. Chicken Hoops brings you analysis of the win and just a hint of a look ahead to this Saturday's home tilt against Vanderbilt, a game that will almost certainly be heavily attended, if only to cheer on the football recruits in attendance. (SEE HOW I TIED IT ALL TOGETHER THERE?)