National Signing Day is Wednesday, and just in case you haven't been able to pay attention to recruiting news during the 2015 cycle, this article will help catch you up on how the class formed, and how it will likely end.
The 2015 class started early with the commitments of WR Dexter Neal and DE Shameik Blackshear. For the most part both have been solid to South Carolina, especially Blackshear, who picked South Carolina over offers from almost every major program in the nation, and based on 247Sports rankings at the time, Blackshear was a 5 star recruit, and had many comparisons to Clowney. Neal on the other hand, while staying solid to USC for his recruitment has had a few scares. At one point it was rumored that he was considering other schools, but after a few weeks, he remained solid to USC. The most recent scare has been his projection in the MLB draft, but as of now, Neal is expected to sign with South Carolina on Wednesday.
July was the only other month until May, 2014 that USC was able to gain a commit, and it was current three star linebacker and early enrollee LB Sherrod Pittman. Pittman chose the Gamecocks over offers from the Auburn Tigers, Michigan State Spartans, Ohio State Buckeyes and Georgia Bulldogs. When he first committed to the Gamecocks it was thought that he was simply trying to save himself a space in a class and was really just waiting on a Florida Gator offer. Despite getting the offer, Pittman reaffirmed his commitment in December, 2014 and sent his LOI to USC. He is currently recovering from a leg injury he suffered during the season, so it is likely that he will redshirt for the 2015 season, especially with the current depth.
For the remainder of 2013, the coaches maintained their focus on the 2014 class, and as stated above, the newest members came in May, 2014. The three, who committed within a few days of one another, were quarterback Lorenzo Nunez, tight end Kyle Markway, and athlete Jalen Christian. Nunez picked the Gamecocks over offers from the Ohio State Buckeyes, Texas A&M Aggies, Tennessee Volunteers and Nebraska Cornhuskers and was rated a four star at the time of his commitment. Markway selected the Gamecocks over offers from the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Fighting Illini and has been rated as a three star. Christian chose the Gamecocks over the Ohio State Buckeyes, Clemson Tigers, Oklahoma Sooners, and Virginia Tech Hokies.
Just like Blackshear and Neal, these three have been solid since they committed and haven't publicly stated that they were even considering other schools. Nunez will bring depth and competition to the quarterback competition that will play out over the spring and fall. With the Gamecocks losing tight ends Rory Anderson, Cody Gibson and Drew Owens, that leaves Jerrell Adams as the only tight end to receive reps at the position, so Markway definitely has the chance to come in and play. Christian has the chance to play at wide receiver this fall with Shaq Roland, Kane Whitehurst, KJ Brent, Damiere Byrd and Nick Jones all leaving.
Following May, the Gamecocks had a very active summer, snagging commitments from safety Antoine Wilder, defensive end Quandeski Whitlow, tight end Connor Redmond, athlete Octavis Johnson, and linebacker Jalen Henry. Of this group, Johnson is the only four star, while the rest are three stars. Jalen Henry is the lone enrollee on campus, but the rest of this group is expected to sign with the Gamecocks. Whitlow had been considering a few other schools, but following an official at USC last weekend, he shut down his recruitment and is a lock to sign this Wednesday.
July was one of the biggest months for the 2015 class, with stud JUCO defensive end Marquavious Lewis, wide receiver Jerad Washington was formally added as an official commit, as well as Dante Sawyer, safety Damon Arnette and both running backs Mon Denson, and AJ Turner. Lewis and Sawyer are probably two of the most important recruits in this class, since they are expected to contribute heavily next season.
Denson and Turner are also important because they filled the running back need of the class, and filled it by being the first two to commit. The coaching staff had stated that they would take the first two and had chances to land four star Jordan Scarlett, three star Bradrick Shaw and four star Johnny Frazier also showed interest. Turner could switch to defensive back like Jamari Smith did, but for now he provides a great compliment to Denson, though it is unlikely both play extensively next season. Lewis and Arnette are the only two to visit other schools from this group, with Lewis visiting the auburn tigers, and Arnette visiting the Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes. After his visit, Lewis stayed firm and is currently on campus along with Jerad Washington. Arnette just finished his visit at OSU and left without committing so he is expected to stay firm to the Gamecocks.
August was a little quieter, but the Gamecocks did snag commits from offensive linemen Christian Pellage and Zack Bailey along with kicker Joseph Charlton. Bailey and Pellage, like Lewis and Sawyer, are also very important recruits in this class. With the Gamecocks losing AJ Cann and Corey Robinson, there was a need to bring in more offensive linemen, especially at the tackle position. Pellage had been considering Florida heavily recently, but last night stated that he would sign with the Gamecocks and was a participant in the Under Armour All-American game, while Bailey was selected to play in the Shrine Bowl, and according to reports, he was a dominant force on the line of scrimmage. Bailey and Charlton are both expected to sign, so no real surprises expected there.
September, October, November and December were fairly slow, with defensive end Dexter Wideman, wide receiver Christian Owens, linebackers Daniel Fennel and Ernest Hawkins, and defensive tackle Ulric Jones. Except for Fennell, Jones and Wideman, the rest are currently enrolled on campus. For the most part, these guys have been very solid and no NSD surprises are expected here.
January is the final month to cover with the final commits coming from former 2012 defensive end Devante Covington, offensive linemen Blake Camper, Denis Daley, Wake Forest Transfer Cory Helms and Trey Derouen, and safety Toure Boyd. While Daley is noted as a commit, it should be noted that he will not be on campus for two years, as he is considered a sign and place. Helms is possibly another key recruit since he was a former Freshman All-American at Wake Forest and can provide an immediate boost to the offensive line if he can obtain a hardship waiver from the NCAA. Boyd could also help the safeties this season with his prior experience in the JUCO level. When NSD roles around, all of these players are expected to sign with USC.
So in total the Gamecocks have 31 recruits with 7 early enrollees, but there were seven decommits that took a toll on the 2015 class.
October to December was a hard time for USC's class. The first casualty of the class was highly touted JUCO linebacker Davon Durant. He was solid to USC for a while, but after some issues with his grades preventing him from enrolling early, he decided to go to the Arizona State Sun Devils. The next was three star cornerback Jaire Alexander, who flipped to the Louisville Cardinals. Then four star offensive lineman Austin Clark flipped to Virginia Tech following an unofficial visit. The class also lost one of its best offensive linemen in JUCO tackle Paris Palmer, who flipped to Penn State after citing a lack of communication with USC.
Following the conclusion of the regular season, Steve Spurrier announced that he though he would only coach for two to three more years which prompted a new round of decommits. High four star cornerback Mark Fields flipped to Clemson following an in home visit from USC. The Gamecocks also lost a commitment from three star Jozie Milton, who flipped to TCU. The final decommit was defensive end Arden Key and he is still on board for the Gamecocks.
The 2015 class is pretty much set, but there are two remaining targets; three star cornerback Rashad Fenton and four star defensive end Arden Key. As it stands, it appears that USC is most likely to land Fenton, who visited last weekend for USC's huge recruiting weekend. Key has stated that the Gamecocks remain his favorite, but cancelled a trip to Auburn after hosting LSU on an in-home visit with most of the recent feelings pointing towards Key committing later today to LSU.
And there you have it, the 2015 recruiting season summarized. Be sure to stay tuned to Garnet and Black Attack for all your NSD coverage.