By Phil Kornblut
QB Dakereon Joyner of Fort Dorchester said last week he’s got his list down to a final three with South Carolina and NC State tied at the top and Alabama just on the outside. He has visited SC and State and is going to Alabama April 22nd.
Oregon also is on his mind but he’s not expecting the Ducks to factor into the final decision. Joyner said the recruiting push from SC and NC State has increased and he’s talking more to both. The fact NC State already has a quarterback committed for the class, Joyner said, is not a factor to him.
SC, from the start, has recruited Joyner as its top quarterback prospect, preaching to him the benefits of staying in-state and being “the face of the program.” He said that approach by Will Muschamp has not changed.
“Come run your state, stay true to your state, come be the man in your state, he is kind of right, I guess,” he said. “I’ve got to do what’s best for me, like I always say. Come run the state, come be the man, stay in state, stay home an hour and fifteen minutes from my house, and I can be the face of the program. And NC State has told me the same thing. I trust the Carolina staff completely only because USC as a whole was here for me since like day one. Not that particular staff but USC as a whole, the fan base and just the school itself, since my eighth grade year.
"I trust Muschamp and Roper because their relationship with my coaches is pretty strong and I know they won’t let me down. It’s the same with NC State because we have alumni. So, I’d say it’s kind of even but it’s kind of different from home state and out of state.”
Joyner does not plan to visit SC or NC State again before he announces on Father’s Day. He will visit Alabama and won’t rule out the possibility of the Crimson Tide making this a true three-team race. This will be his second visit there but his first with an offer, so he’s expecting a different reception.
“My first time going to Alabama I was excited but I didn’t have an offer then, and they didn’t show me the love that I feel like I should have gotten," he said.
Alabama did offer Joyner as a quarterback. Joyner will make his decision known on June 18th but plans to make his decision two to three weeks before that and will let the coaches know at that point.
QB Chase Wolf (6-2, 195) of Cincinnati visited SC last month as part of a tour of several Southern schools and the Gamecocks are right at the top of his list, along with Boston College.
“I love the coaching staff and I love the players," he said. "The campus is beautiful and the education is great as well.”
Wolf primarily is a passing quarterback who can run when necessary. He passed for 1,291 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. He watched the Gamecocks practice and focused on what the offense like to do.
“They run similar things to what we do and that seems good for me,” he said. “I like watching the quarterbacks and how they work. The practice they ran was up-tempo so game-time things are easier. I really liked that about the way they practiced.”
Wolf said he would like to make his decision in May. He has also visited NC State, North Carolina, Duke, Boston College, Indiana, Cincinnati and Wisconsin. The Gamecocks are in regular contact, Wolf said, and he’s communicating primarily with quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper.
“They want me to be a part of the family. That’s the clear message that I receive from them," he said. "They talk to me just like a person. He asks me how I’m doing. It’s not like come here for this reason or come here for that reason. We’re building a relationship, which is pretty special. I’d say they are in the top two with probably Boston College.”
SC is dangerously thin at quarterback for the 2017 season and the Gamecocks are looking into Westin Elliott (6-5, 230), a Texas native who played last season at Blinn JC in Texas. They’ve made some preliminary contact with him and he’s just waiting for Roper to take the next step in recruiting.
“Recruiting is just now starting for JUCOs since all of the D1’s are just now finishing up their spring practices and games. The main schools I’ve been in contact with recently are Washington State, Louisiana Tech and South Carolina," he said.
Elliott said most of his contact with the Gamecocks thus far has been with director of player personnel Matt Lindsey. “He has told me they really like my size and arm strength. I’m supposed to be hearing from Coach Roper and I’m sure we will get more in-depth on the offense. I’ve watched the spring game a couple times and broken it down, and I really like the offense. It’s all stuff I’m familiar with and have run before. It’s definitely a place I’m super interested in and it would be a great atmosphere to play in. From what I can tell, it’s a great culture and somewhere I would want to be.”
Last season Elliott played in four and a half games, passing for 670 yards and 6 touchdowns while completing 60 percent of his passes. He will have four years to play three at the next level. He finishes school at Blinn on May 12th.
DE KJ Henry of Clemmons, N.C. has SC in his final 10 and he visited the Gamecocks for their spring game. Both continue to push for Henry and figure to be in the fight for him until the end. Muschamp is leading the charge in an effort to entice Henry to Columbia. Having already missed on Xavier Thomas, who committed to Clemson, Muschamp could restore some major momentum by landing Henry.
“He likes Coach Muschamp,” said Henry’s coach Adrian Snow. “I think for him, they’ve got to keep it rolling and keep going in the right direction.”
Henry visited Charlotte last week and Snow said he will also visit Virginia Tech sometime soon. And he said he will take all five of his official visits before making his decision. The other schools on Henry’s short list are Clemson, Penn State, Georgia, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Alabama, Louisville, Virginia Tech and Charlotte.
University of Minnesota graduate transfer DE Gaelin Elmore is in the process of checking out the schools he’s considering for his final season. He was at Houston over the weekend and before that SC and Arizona. He is going to East Carolina this weekend. The Gamecocks are shopping for some immediate help at defensive end and did their best to convince Elmore to join in.
“It was awesome. I didn’t know what to expect going down, having never been to South Carolina,” Elmore said. “Me and Coach Muschamp had kind of a previous relationship because I was recruited by Florida coming out of high school. It was awesome to get down there and see everything the school has to offer. They have a lot of great resources and I really enjoyed my time there. Great people and great community. It was great, I enjoyed it a lot.”
Elmore said part of his time was spent meeting with Muschamp and Lance Thompson and he got an idea about how they would use him should he decide to join them.
“Up and down the line, not really restricting me to one position,” he said. “They were telling me I could contribute up and down the line and on every down, and that’s something that’s really appealing, especially having defensive coaches with NFL experience and knowing what teams in the NFL look for. So, just seeing how they want to use me and the way they say they can use me is pretty sweet. They are definitely someone I have to consider hard.
"My dad really loved it and that’s a big point to take into consideration. South Carolina is (a school) that’s definitely going to be in my mind for a while and probably be right in there when I start to make my decision.”
Some of his other offers are from Oklahoma, East Carolina, Wake Forest, West Virginia, and Texas Tech.
First-year SC offensive line coach Eric Wolford is checking out the junior college ranks for talent and that search has taken him to Brooklyn and ASA Junior College for left tackle Thomas Lopez (6-5, 300), a native of Middletown, N.J. Wolford hasn’t offered Lopez yet but strong interest does exist. Lopez signed directly with ASA out of high school and started last season as a freshman.
“Coaches like my footwork and how nasty I play,” Lopez said. “I have a good punch and they love the potential.”
Lopez said Wolford first reached out to him through Twitter and after the two connected, they’ve remained in contact and the relationship has gotten stronger.
“He’s real interested in me,” Lopez said. “Ever since then we’ve been talking every day or every other day. He’s actually coming up the first day of spring ball to watch me practice.”
Lopez has offers from Akron, UTSA and Marshall. He has visited Maryland this spring and he’s also looking at Oklahoma State for a visit, but he won’t take any other visits until after his spring ball. He will graduate in December and will enroll in January. He will have three years to play two.
RB Jashaun Corbin (6-1, 186) of Melbourne, Fla. visited USC last week. Corbin has an offer from SC and his visit there also put the Gamecocks firmly in the ballgame with him.
“It was a lot better than I thought,” he said. “I hung out with Coach Bentley and Coach Muschamp for a while. They jumped (up the list) because before I didn’t know too much about them so I wasn’t too high on them, but I really like South Carolina.”
Corbin has not yet shortened his list to a top group from his nearly 30 offers. He has also visited Clemson, Tennessee, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Florida and Florida State. He also has offers from Michigan, North Carolina, Iowa State, Notre Dame, LSU and others. Last season he rushed for 1,022 yards and 11 touchdowns and had 25 catches for 619 yards and 7 touchdowns.
SC has been the favorite of WR Jatavious Harris of Milledgeville, Ga. since early March and even though he has received many more offers and taken other visits, Harris still has the Gamecocks at the top of his list.
“We’ve been talking a lot and they are my number one school right now,” Harris said. “They are telling me they are ready for me to get over there so we can get to it and put in some work."
He has not yet visited the campus but he plans to do so in May. He has been to Georgia and Georgia State and will visit Tennessee this weekend. Harris said Tennessee is second to SC on his list. He is also going to visit Florida, Pitt and possibly Louisville. Harris has declared a final eight of SC, Tennessee, Florida, Pitt, Minnesota, Louisville, West Virginia and Miami.
What has kept the Gamecocks atop his list, Harris said, is the constant communications between the two and what he feels they have to offer.
“I just feel like that’s a place I can make home one day, hopefully," he said. "I really don’t have a set date (for committing). I’m waiting to take some more visits and stuff and then I’ll decide. They are waiting on me.”
Harris said he does plan to make his commitment before his season. He will be an early graduate.
Gamecock targets LB Dax Hollifield of Shelby, N.C. and DB DJ Crossen of Greensboro visited Virginia Tech last week.
DL Jeffery Johnson (6-2, 325) of Brookhaven, Mass. added SC to his offer list last week. He also has offers from Kentucky, LSU, Alabama, Florida, Louisville, Memphis and others.
“I talked to Coach Thompson and he was just telling me how he likes the way I play the game. He was really excited about my film," he said.
The Gamecock interest is all brand new to Johnson and he hasn’t had enough time to investigate the program thoroughly to know where SC would fall in his big picture.
“I have a lot of big-time offers and I just need to get on campus and really get to know what the program is about and things that stand out from others,” he said. “I think this summer would bring a good time (for a visit).”
Johnson has visited Ole Miss, LSU, Florida State and Louisiana-Lafayette. He will go to either Alabama or LSU for a spring game.
RB Mateo Durant of McCormick has taken some visits, including one to SC, and has more to come.
“I talked to Coach Bentley and he said they love me but they have to be careful with their pick. He said once they offer that means they’re ready to offer me.”
Durant also has visited Duke, Georgia and Georgia State and he has visits coming up to Wofford, Virginia Tech, Charlotte and West Virginia.
DB Jaycee Horn of Alpharetta, Ga. trimmed his list to a final seven of SC, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Wake Forest, Ohio State, Alabama and Auburn.
DB Chris Smith of Hapeville, Ga. released his top six of SC, Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, and Florida.
SC target DB Steven Gilmore Jr. of South Pointe was offered by Louisville.
Spring Valley LB and SC target Channing Tindall was offered by Arkansas.
Byrnes WR Demarcus Gregory, who has a SC offer, was offered by Nebraska.
SC offered WR Ja’Marr Chase of Metairie, La., WR Kamryn Babb of St. Louis and DE Jamarcus Chatman of Rome, Ga. SC also offered 2019 OL/DL Chris Akporoghene of Seymour, Tenn., 2019 DB Kaiir Elam of North Palm Beach, Fla, 2020 QB Max Johnson of Watkinsville, Ga. and 2020 WR Porter Rooks of Charlotte.
2019 WR Stephon Green (6-5, 190) of Carvers Bay took in a spring practice at SC. He’s been a basketball player but is now being recruited more for football. He’s expecting SC coaches to scout him this spring and he will attend a Gamecock summer camp. Green also is hearing from Clemson, East Carolina and Wingate.
2020 QB JW Hertzberg of Southside Christian already is drawing the interest of SC. He has been to USC and Oklahoma State.
“Coach Bentley and Coach Muschamp and Coach Roper have had me on campus three times so far and invited me again this summer," he said.
He also has been to Miami and Florida International and is drawing interest from Clemson. Hertzberg currently is 6-2 but projects to be 6-4 or 6-5.
SC is in the top six with 6-4 Sharone Wright Jr. of West Florence. The others on his list are Clemson, Georgia, Wake Forest, Kansas State and Arkansas.
6-9 Chevez Goodwin announced last week he is transferring from the College of Charleston after one season. Goodwin would like to move to program in a Power Five conference and said SC is one of the programs he’d like to consider. Goodwin, who prepped at Hammond Academy in Columbia, played in all 35 games last season and averaged 2.3 points per game.