Stone Blanton, Inside Linebacker
Rivals Rating = 5.7 / 3 star
Inside linebacker Stone Blanton is a 3 star prospect from Madison, Mississippi and is the only commitment in the 2022 recruiting class representing the state of Mississippi. According to his prospect profile, he was recruited by defensive coordinator Clayton White.
Blanton comes in at 6 feet 3 inches and weighing 215 pounds. He is most comparable to current Gamecock Sherrod Greene. However their position, similar build, and ability to land hard hits is where the comparisons end. Blanton is the most ready to play true freshman linebacker that South Carolina has landed in a number of years.
In today’s game, true middle “MIKE” linebackers are becoming more rare. Blanton is a true “MIKE” linebacker and should easily slide into Clayton White’s 4-2-5 scheme. He quickly identifies the play and then attacks, wasting very little movement and taking excellent angles when chasing down the ball carrier. South Carolina fans are going to enjoy watching the physicality Blanton brings to the game. He has the ability to blow up plays in the backfield or explode into the ball carrier, and is willing to take out a lead blocker so a teammate can make the play. Blanton is relentless when in pursuit of the ball and opposing offenses are going to have a difficult time accounting for him in the coming years.
Clayton White and staff managed to convince Blanton to drop his original baseball commitment to Mississippi State and join the 2022 Carolina football recruiting class. According to Rivals, Blanton collected a total of 23 offers from all over the Southeast to the Midwest. SEC offers included Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee, and Texas A&M. Blanton finished the year rated 5.7, ranked 17th overall in the state of Mississippi and 13th best inside linebacker nationally. A strong argument should be made for Blanton to be a 4 star prospect across all recruiting services. Recruiting services that rated him lower than a 4 star status clearly missed on Blanton’s ability and potential.
Blanton demonstrated how he can be a force on kickoff coverage and kickoff return in high school. He’ll likely start out contributing there, but don’t be surprised to see Blanton forcing his way into playing time on defense as a freshman. He’s a special find at linebacker and, by the time he graduates, he very well could turn out to be one of the best to play at Carolina, if he lives up to his work ethic and potential.