Published February 4, 2011 - 11:33am
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Biggest Needs: South Carolina’s needs are very similar to the needs of Arkansas. The Gamecocks graduated 5 O-linemen (3 starters) and 2 Tight-Ends. The really bad news is that the whole left side of that O-Line is gone, and finding a LT in the SEC can be a difficult task. Staying on the offensive side of the ball, because of Marcus Lattimore, Brian Maddox’s departure has been a bit over looked. Say what you want, but Maddox seemed to run harder when Lattimore got on campus, and he was a solid backup this year.
Defensively the Gamecocks will need to find a pass rush with the departure of Ladi Ajiboye and Cliff Matthews. They also lost both of their ILB’s. CB Chris Culliver is another a big loss, because he was their best DB and a returner.
Needs Met: The Gamecocks signed 5 O-Linemen, and Brandon Shell looks the most ready to compete. Shell will make a push for PT early in the fall. They also brought in three tight ends to help replace Patrick DiMarco and Wesley Saunders. I do see a bit of a drop off at tight end for the Gamecocks next year, because I don’t see a quality replacement for Saunders. There are a couple of running backs in this class, but I don’t see one coming in that will be on the 2-deep. However, Kenny Miles will be a good backup to Lattimore.
So far, Phillip Dukes is the best defensive player that the Cocks picked up. Dukes should be well over 300lbs by the Fall, and that guy is a monster on the interior D-Line. I think the LB class is a little weak, because I think all 4 LB’s they signed are destined for a redshirt. However, the DBs they signed are really nice. I like the two Safetys (Sheldon Royster and Brison Williams) a lot, but don’t be surprised to see one convert to CB.
Biggest Get: The verdict is still out on this one, because if Jadeveon Clowney signs with South Carolina, he might be the biggest get ever. Until he signs with someone, then I will go with Dukes. Dukes was big because the Gamecocks kept him away from Bama. If they can keep Clowney away from Bama (and now Clemson), that would be huge for them.
Note: Shamier Jeffery could be a sleeper recruit at WR, because we all know what his brother can do.
Biggest Miss: Right now I think Lateek Townsend is a big miss. Townsend could have filled a need at LB, and he would easily add depth next year. However, just like Clowney is the biggest get, he could also be the biggest miss.
Final Evaluation: I think that South Carolina met all of their needs in this class, but there are no real offensive gamebreakers in this class. I think they could have signed one offensive playmaker, and that would have helped tremendously.
Jadeveon Clowney, in my opinion, is the biggest prospect ever for South Carolina. The Gamecocks had one of their best seasons in quite a while, and they made it to the SEC Championship Game. If they can’t sign the #1 player in the nation, who happens to be from South Carolina, then that is just an epic failure. If Clowney goes elsewhere, that says a lot about recruit’s perception of South Carolina.
Final Grade: B (If they get Clowney, my grade will be an A)