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South Carolina football recruiting: A wish list for 2017

We’re in favor of getting our gifts a little late in this department.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Christmas marks the day where families gather to open presents, sit by the fire, and stuff themselves with turkey, ham, dressing and a lot of other good stuff. If you’re a Gamecocks fans, you’re probably hoping Santa brings you some nice gifts, like an NCAA Tournament bid for the basketball team, a national championship for the baseball (and possibly women’s basketball) team, and maybe an SEC championship for football. But you’re probably hoping that he has room in his bag to fit a few top-line recruits in there, too.

So, in the true holiday spirit, I took a few minutes to jot down just a few players that are on my personal Christmas wish list. There’s no guarantee that the Gamecocks will get all of these players, but we can dream together, right? It’s Christmas, after all!

Xavier Thomas, DE, IMG Academy (Fla.)

Xavier Thomas is on everyone’s wish list - and for good reason because this kid has the potential to be a program changer wherever he ends up. We still don’t know a decision date, but we do know that it will be either South Carolina or Clemson that ends up with him when it’s all said and done.

Dakereon Joyner, QB, North Charleston (S.C.) Fort Dorchester

I know that some Gamecocks fans may not want yet another quarterback, but it’s all about planning for the future, isn’t it? Jake Bentley and Brandon McIlwain will be juniors and Jay Urich will be a sophomore, but the Charleston-area product is poised to get the keys to the car at some point. Joyner recently cut Clemson from his list and looks to be a almost-solid lock to end up in Columbia in January 2018 as he’s set to enroll early to the school of his choice.

Rick Sandidge, DT, Concord (N.C.)

Why not throw a talented defensive tackle into the mix? Sandidge is skilled at stopping the run, but he’s pretty good at getting to the quarterback as well. Getting a player like him into the fold would give a big boost to the run-stopping game. Having his teammate Hamsah Nasirildeen in the fold doesn’t hurt the Gamecocks’ cause, by the way.

Josh Belk, DT, Richburg (S.C.) Lewisville

Imagine a defensive front with Xavier Thomas at one end and a tackle combo of Sandidge/Belk. The Gamecocks are hoping that they can make that happen, and if they get Belk, they’ll be getting a player that registered 28 (yes, twenty-eight, as in two less than thirty) TFLs and eight sacks. This kid is a borderline five-star prospect and might get a fifth star before it’s all said and done.

We asked our readers to chime in with the recruit(s) on their holiday wish list that they’d like to see commit in 2017.

Johnson (a 2017) is poised to commit after taking his official visits in January to South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia Tech - but the Gamecocks and Hokies look to have the edge. Sterling, a former Alabama pledge, is set to take an official to South Carolina next month, so he looks to be another January commit. Opposing quarterbacks and running backs are already having nightmares about having to face these two in college.

The Gamecocks did have Moore at one point, but despite a recent decommitment, he is still considering the Gamecocks. (He’ll be here on January 13.) Tony Gray is leaning Georgia, and even if he wasn’t, I’d think the Gamecocks would get one or the other. But we’ll have to see if his high school teammate Jamyest Williams can work on him a little.