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Crootin’ Notebook: South Carolina targets in The Opening

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The latest Gamecock football recruiting updates, including a look at which targets are competing this weekend at The Opening Finals.

NCAA Football: Birmingham Bowl-South Florida vs South Carolina Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

The Opening Finals will take place this weekend at Nike’s massive campus in Beaverton, Oregon. Over the course of the five-day event, 166 of the nation’s top high school football players will compete to solidify their position in the 2018 recruiting class.

Quarterback practice sessions began on Thursday and will continue throughout Friday, then the showcase events will begin on Saturday and culminate in a seven-on-seven tournament that will be decided on Monday. (SB Nation’s Bud Elliott and Alex Kirshner are at the event for the entire weekend; you can find their constantly-updated live blog at the bottom of this post.)

Here is a look at which South Carolina targets will be competing and where the Gamecocks currently stand with each:

Xavier Thomas | SDE | IMG Academy

247Sports Composite Score: 0.9991 (5 stars)

Yes, Xavier Thomas can be committed to that team in the Upstate and still be a USC target. You better believe Will Muschamp is going to recruit Thomas hard until signing day. He is too good of a prospect not to.

KJ Henry | WDE | West Forsyth

247Sports Composite Score: 0.9913 (5 stars)

KJ Henry is one of the most dynamic prospects of the 2018 cycle. He has the speed and versatility to play the coveted BUCK position, a hybrid between linebacker and defensive end.

The Gamecocks are in Henry’s top ten, but he is still probably a long shot at this point. However, he is expected to keep his recruitment open throughout his senior season, so USC’s stock could improve if they can get him on campus this fall.

Rick Sandidge | DT | Concord

247Sports Composite Score: 0.9415 (4 stars)

South Carolina was one of the first schools to offer Rick Sandidge and have maintained a strong position with him ever since. If he were to commit soon, the Gamecocks would likely be the pick, but he’s currently enjoying the recruitment process.

At the very least, we know his mom is a fan.

Channing Tindall | OLB | Spring Valley

247Sports Composite Score: 0.9268 (4 stars)

Channing Tindall is a local product who’s recruitment has absolutely blown up throughout the spring/summer. 247Sports has him rated as the top prospect in South Carolina and a top-50 player nationally. The Gamecocks currently lead, but Auburn, Georgia and Florida are all recruiting him hard.

Tindall is expected to announce mid-season.

Josh Vann | WR | Tucker

247Sports Composite Score: 0.9194 (4 stars)

The contest to land Josh Vann is shaping up to be another Georgia vs. South Carolina affair, but there is good reason to believe he will end up choosing USC. He most recently declared the Gamecocks his leader after camping in Columbia earlier in June.

While the cupboards may seem fairly full at receiver, Vann offers a unique skill set. He is primarily a slot specialist, which outside of Hayden Hurst there are not currently any receivers on the roster that can really work the middle of the field.

Jaycee Horn | DB | Alpharetta

247Sports Composite Score: 0.9149 (4 stars)

Last week Jaycee Horn released his top two of Alabama and South Carolina. This has been a seesaw battle throughout, but Horn has reportedly developed a great relationship with defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson.

The Gamecocks should feel good about their chances when Horn announces on July 15.

Azeez Ojulari | WDE | Marietta

247Sports Composite Score: 0.9055 (4 stars)

Azeez Ojulari is a prospect who the coaching staff has been reported to be high on, but we have yet to discuss him just because of how quiet his recruitment has been.

Ojulari has not released any official lists of top schools, but Chad Simmons of Rivals.com reported this morning that the schools he is primarily considering are Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee. Ojulari has visited all of these schools except for Florida. He said once that happens, a commitment could come at any point.

Jovaughn Gwyn | OG | Harding University

247Sports Composite Score: 0.8611 (3 stars)

Forget the three star rating. Jovaughn Gwyn is an important piece to the puzzle for offensive line coach Eric Wolford. Gwyn was one of the more impressive lineman at The Opening Charlotte regional, and he will look to impress again this weekend in Beaverston.

South Carolina is in his top schools with NC State, Duke and Virginia Tech.


Stephon Wynn commitment

4-star defensive end Stephon Wynn of IMG Academy will be announcing Saturday at 1 pm in his hometown of Anderson, SC. The decision will be between South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.

There has not been any new information since I last reported on Wynn a week ago, but it appears both the Bulldog and Gamecock coaching staffs feel confident in their respective positions.

Garnet & Black Attack will be in attendance to live stream the ceremony and provide any breaking updates.


LIVE UPDATES FROM THE OPENING