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South Carolina football recruiting: Xavier Thomas will transfer to IMG Academy

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One of the biggest names in the 2018 recruiting class will head to Florida for his senior year.

Student Sports

One of South Carolina’s priority recruits is headed out of state to wrap up his high school career. Xavier Thomas, a consensus top three recruit in the class of 2018, will suit up for IMG Academy next fall, making the announcement on his Twitter page last night. He is set to enroll in January and will train with the team leading up to his senior season.

In my view, it’s an important move for a young man that figures to be a program changer wherever he ends up. Transferring to IMG, which practically runs like a college, allows Thomas to play with and against the best players in the nation, affording him opportunities that he wouldn’t get back home. A check of ESPN’s Top 300 juniors shows that four players already at IMG are ranked 84th or higher; with Thomas’ arrival, they will have four players in the top 50. ESPN’s fourth and fifth ranked 2017 players - Georgia commit Robert Beal and Alabama pledge Dylan Moses - just wrapped up their senior seasons at the program.

That ties in to the next question: what does that mean for South Carolina’s recruitment of him? I still expect it to come down to the Gamecocks and Clemson at this point, barring a move by Ohio State and Florida State, his other top two schools, over the next few months. Because he’s playing for such a high level prep program in IMG, Thomas will be wooed by several of the country’s elite programs, but at this point in time I don’t see a lot of evidence pointing to him choosing a college program outside of South Carolina when it’s all said and done.

More on Mathis’ decommitment

Yesterday, the Gamecocks lost a 2017 recruit as Damarri Mathis reopened his recruitment. Hale McGranahan over at SEC Country was able to catch up with Mathis last night to get a feel of his decision.

“It’s really just me opening up my recruitment, looking at other schools and making sure that I make the right decision for my future.”...

“They understood that I wanted to open up my recruitment and it just went on from there.”

According to Mathis, Pitt is a likely destination. McGranahan reported that Pitt staff members stopped by for an in-home visit last evening.

The Gamecocks still have two cornerbacks on board. Jamyest Williams leads the pack and is a likely solid verbal, but I’d keep a close eye on Tavyn Jackson, who is set to visit Maryland this weekend. If they can’t hold on to Jackson, they’re likely to have Yusuf Corker (who favors South Carolina and will announce next month) and perhaps JUCO recruit Keisean Nixon in the fold.

DL visitor in January

South Carolina will get one of five official visits from Brooklyn (N.Y.) Abraham Lincoln tackle Romello Martin, reports Phil Kornblut at SportsTalk. Martin will be in on January 21. A three-star recruit, he is considered the #24 defensive tackle as calculated by 247Sports’ composite ratings. Martin, who has recorded 23.0 TFLs in his last three seasons, will be counted on to fill a position of major need for the Gamecocks in 2017 as they have struggled mightily to stop the run.

On the road

The coaching staff has been busy over the past few days hitting the road and visiting recruits. Sunday was the first day of the contact period, the least restrictive period on the NCAA recruiting calendar. It will run until December 12, which will start a dead period during bowl season that runs through January 11 (two days after the College Football Playoff National Championship) before the contact period restarts and runs until January 28. McGranahan reports that Will Muschamp and Travaris Robinson checked on 2018 corner Keisean Nixon on Monday, while Coleman Hutzler will see JUCO CB commit Eldridge Thompson today, among notable news. T-Rob also saw DB Jamyest Williams in Georgia on Sunday.