Steve Spurrier will welcome another top recruiting class to Columbia on Signing Day. The Gamecocks have 17 commitments before Signing Day, including seven consensus four-star recruits, as they attempt to reload a roster hit by graduation and NFL defections on both sides of the ball.
One Gamecock recruit is already on campus. Massive defensive tackle Abu Lamin, a junior college transfer from Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College, enrolled for the spring semester and will be available for spring practice. The four-star prospect was the third-ranked JUCO defensive tackle in the country, and at 6'3 and 300 pounds, could contribute immediately. He's not the only one: Lamin is one of two JUCO defensive linemen signed by the Gamecocks, both of which could see significant playing time on a revamped defensive front next season.
Carolina hasn't traditionally relied very heavily upon JUCO prospects under Steve Spurrier, but the Gamecocks are trying to replace Chaz Sutton and a pair of All-Americans, so they'll take all of the ready-to-play talent they can get.
South Carolina's February signees-to-be are highlighted by Bryson Allen-Williams, a four-star outside linebacker from Ellenwood, Ga. Allen-Williams is a borderline top 100 recruit nationally and the consensus No. 8-rated outside linebacker in the country. He held offers from more than 30 major-college programs, including Alabama, UCLA, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, and Oregon. The Cedar Grove High School standout comes in at just 6'1 and 222 pounds, but earns rave reviews for his aggressiveness.
He profiles as an active player capable of being moved around and attacking from different angles. And attack he does -- Allen-Williams is quite good at playing downhill.
Allen-Williams has good short-area quickness and bends well, particularly when blitzing. Williams plays with good strength and delivers a blow to ball carriers.
Allen-Williams will be joined in the South Carolina defensive front seven by Dante Sawyer, a 6'3, 262-lb. defensive end recruit from Suwanee, Ga.'s North Gwinnett High. Sawyer is also on the fringe of the national top 100, and the four-star prospect is widely considered one of the top five weakside defensive end recruits in the nation. South Carolina beat out Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, USC, LSU, Missouri, and a host of others for his commitment. As Bud Elliott writes, Sawyer already understands leverage.
Sawyer has good, but not great quickness off the snap. What he does do very well, however, is convert speed to power by staying low and getting the most out of his power body. He has some pass-rushing moves, though they'll need some refinement at the next level. Importantly, he seems to have a plan. He sets up his man and works one move off another, understanding positioning and spacing.
His football smarts are also evident against the run. Sawyer shows good functional strength and is willing to fight opposing blockers. He plays low and with good balance, maintaining a good football position from which to make tackles. Sawyer really seems to have a good idea of how to play football; he is not the typical high school speed rusher who runs around at full speed without a plan.
Four-star wideout Shaq Davidson is the top skill position talent in South Carolina Class of 2014. The Gaffney, S.C. product comes in at 6' and 170 pounds is the fifth-rated player in the state, and a top 200 recruit nationally. He will also give South Carolina two receivers named Shaq, which has to be a record.
While Davidson might not have ideal size, as Bud Elliott writes, he makes up for it in agility.
Davidson has good but not great size. And with that he pairs a few excellent attributes. The first is his acceleration. Davidson might not be the fastest receiver in the country, but he reaches top speed quite quickly. Quite simply, he is able to change directions and will be able to get open and away from defenders solely with his quickness and agility. His quickness will also help him to beat press coverage.
South Carolina enters 2014 needing a great deal of help along the defensive line and at cornerback, and the Gamecocks' coaching staff did a lot to address those needs with this recruiting class.
There could be more help in those areas on the way, as several defensive prospects set to announce on National Signing Day are considering South Carolina. One potential addition is four-star defensive tackle Poona Ford, who is also considering Texas, Ohio State and Louisville. Four-star cornerback Wesley Green is down to South Carolina and Georgia, while four-star Chris Lammons is set to pick between the Gamecocks, Florida and Wisconsin.
The Gamecocks -- and the in-state rival Clemson Tigers, for that matter -- didn't prove quite as capable of keeping the best in-state talent home during this cycle as they have in recent years. Four-star outside linebacker and South Carolina legacy Christian Miller was picked off by Alabama and four-star quarterback Jacob Park of Goose Creek (S.C.) signed with Georgia.