The Elite 11 Finals — an annual quarterback competition highlighting the best prep signal callers in the country — is set to begin this evening at 6:30 p.m. ET and once again South Carolina Gamecocks fans have a reason to watch.
In 2002 the Gamecocks landed Blake Mitchell, in 2006 they got Stephen Garcia and in 2015 they got Brandon McIlwain. Now, fans will get to feast their eyes on Dakereon Joyner — a consensus four-star athlete from Charleston powerhouse Fort Dorchester. Joyner is rated by Rivals, 247 and ESPN as one of the four best 2018 signees in the Palmetto State and could stand to be a potentially huge pickup for Will Muschamp.
Given the last three guys South Carolina signed out of the Elite 11, it’s fairly obvious the camp isn’t a guaranteed predictor of future success. But if you’ve seen Joyner play in person — and I have — you can’t help but be excited.
I had the privilege of covering the Erk Russell Classic for my day job, which brought Fort Dorchester down to Statesboro, Ga. to face off against Sandy Creek High School — a traditional power in Northwest Georgia who’ve produced the likes of Calvin Johnson, Rajion Neal and Kedric Golston. All Joyner did was throw for 444 yards and five touchdowns to beat Sandy Creek 48-35 on the road in rainy weather.
I can say without objection Sandy Creek had no answers for Joyner. If the defense wanted to drop everyone back to defend the deep ball, Joyner simply slipped through the pass rush and would break off a first down run. Dare bring the coverage in and Joyner was burning Sandy Creek over the top for a deep touchdown. All in the rain, on the road and in a college stadium.
Here’s the HUDL video if you’d like to see the highlights for yourself. (Around the 39 second mark you can see me standing in awe in a teal shirt as Joyner hits a receiver down the sideline).
After that game Joyner would go on lead Fort Dorchester to the state championship but fall to the same team who handed them their only loss prior — Dutch Fork. In the seven games listed on MaxPreps, Joyner completed 62.7 percent of his passes at 10.8 yards an attempt with 19 touchdowns and five interceptions. In those same seven games he rushed for 488 yards at 6.1 yards a carry and four touchdowns.
Joyner will be one of the 25 quarterbacks traveling to Los Angeles for a shot to be one of the final 11 who will travel to Oregon for the Opening Finals in July. Joyner is one of the five quarterbacks in attendance who is uncommitted, but according to 247’s crystal ball projection Joyner is a 95 percent lock to commit to South Carolina over Clemson.
Garnet and Black Attack readers can follow SB Nation’s live coverage at this link on Friday between 6:30-9:30, Saturday from 9:30-12:30, and Sunday from 1:30-5. All times ET p.m.