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National Signing Day 2014: Darin Smalls signs with South Carolina

Top rated in-state defensive back signs with Gamecocks.

Peter Aiken

The top-rated defensive back in South Carolina has signed with the Gamecocks. Darin Smalls, a safety out of Summerville, S.C. is the No. 13 player in the state and the 38th-ranked safety in the nation according the 247Sports composite index. At 5'11 and a solid 200 pounds, Smalls chose the Gamecocks over in-state rival Clemson, while holding offers from Virginia Tech, Florida State, N.C. State, Georgia Tech and Tennessee among others.

The in-state product, who committed last June, hails from the same high school as current NFL superstar A.J. Green and was recruited to Carolina by Everette Sands and Grady Brown. After leading his Summerville team to an undefeated start his senior year, Smalls suffered a devastating knee injury when he tore the ACL in his left knee on a punt return in September. Prior to his injury, Smalls had been one of the most explosive playmakers in the state of South Carolina. For his junior campaign, he had 58 tackles and 5 interceptions (3 of which were returned for touchdowns). He also had over 600 return yards and three scores.

Due to his size, Smalls is projected as a safety at South Carolina. Despite already weighing 200 pounds as a high school senior Smalls also possesses 4.4 speed, which made him such a dynamic kick and punt returner during his prep career. He was also on Summerville’s 4x100 meter relay state championship team in 2012.

Smalls' film shows that he is a physical defensive back with explosive speed, good hips, and playmaking ability. While at Summerville, he played receiver, defensive back, and returned kicks. Given his ACL injury, Smalls will likely not be ready for the start of fall camp. Fortunately, the Gamecocks have players like Brison Williams, Chaz Elder, and Kadetrix Marcus at the safety position with game experience. Look for the coaching staff to redshirt him in 2014 with the hope that he will be ready to compete in 2015.