As you're probably aware, South Carolina will have a bevy of recruits on campus this weekend as part of a final push to get some fine young men to sign the dotted line with pledges to the Gamecocks. Some of these are guys who have already given us verbal commitments; others are uncommitted or committed elsewhere. I'd like to take a closer look at each of the ones who aren't committed to us and discuss how important they are to this class. Be sure to take a look at Connor and Bud Elliot's takes, too.
LB Yannick Ngakoue. Of all of the guys visiting this weekend, I'd like nothing more than to see a commitment from this one. Ngakoue is an elite prospect at ILB, and despite already weighing in at around 230, he's still growing. He has the look of a prototype SEC ILB. Our needs at LB have been well documented, and where we're really hurting is ILB. Getting Ngakoue would allow us not to have to be forced to play guys out of position in the next couple of years. Unfortunately, it's unclear how interested he is. He's stated that he's down to FSU, Maryland, and USC, but he's playing it close to the vest as far as which school leads for his services. Hopefully we can make a strong impression this weekend.
LB Skai Moore. This three-star product Florida prospect was committed to Rutgers until very recently. He's now reopened his recruitment and is showing a lot of interest in USC and Arkansas. He's not as highly touted as Ngakoue, but Bud Elliott has this to say about him: "Moore is a tremendous recruit who the Hurricanes (and the Seminoles and Gators, if they had room) will seriously regret offering. He should be a consensus four-star prospect." Elliott's comments reflect everything I've read about Moore--he's extremely underrated. Again, need here is high, and I would be nearly as pleased if we get Moore as I would be to get Ngakoue. The only concern is that he's not quite the prototypical ILB that Ngakoue is, but he's got the frame to put on weight and should be able to play either of the two LB spots.
LB Jonathan Walton. Walton is an AL product who is currently committed to Penn St. The commit is soft, though, and he's looking at USC, Tennessee, and Auburn. This three-star product isn't quite as highly touted as the other two, but he is built well for ILB, which is good. Again, LB is the big need right now, and while we'd prefer to get one of the other two, I think we can agree that Walton would be a welcome addition to the fold, as well.
DT Deadrin Senat. Senat is a three-star DT who we're turning up the heat on now that it looks like Keith Bryant is out. Bryant is a little undersized, but he plays with good technique and has had a productive high-school career. I am concerned that this is a position of need for us, although not as much as it is for the linebackers. We look pretty good at DT for next year with Kelcy Quarles, J.T. Surratt, and Gerald Dixon, but with Quarles likely to consider taking his talents to the NFL after 2013, it's important that we start building more depth at this position now.
OT Na'Ty Rodgers. This Maryland product has had an interesting recruitment process. He had said the Gamecocks were his leaders for months leading up to the Under Armour game, where he planned to announce his commitment. He apparently wavered in favor of the hometown Terrapins and nearly committed to them at the game, but he delayed his announcement, which would seem to be a good thing for the Gamecocks. As far as our need for Rodgers goes, I'd put it in the medium range. Obviously, you can never have enough commitments from promising offensive linemen. That said, we've made a commitment to this position in recent classes, and we've got some good prospects in tow, including as a part of this class. It would be disappointing to see us miss out on another guy who has publicly proclaimed his affection for our program, though.
In any event, one thing you'll notice about this list of prospects is that they're all from out of state. There's been a lot of moaning about the state of USC recruiting this year, considering that it would seem natural that we would be recruiting lights out right now due to our unprecedented success on the field. However, this was a down year for in-state talent. With a couple of exceptions, USC got most of the in-state guys it wanted, but there just weren't that many. We were thus forced to go out of state to fill our needs, and it's never quite as easy when that's the case, for obvious reasons. Hopefully we get some of these guys, but if we don't, I don't think it means that our coaching staff is dropping the ball. It would be a different story if we were losing out on a bunch of in-state guys with long-time Gamecocks ties.