South Carolina football: 5 recruits who can help immediately in 2019
South Carolina is in decent position with a 5-star in-state recruit and 4 4-stars.
The Gamecocks plan to sign 18-20 recruits this month, coach Will Muschamp said after the Akron game, so that means there’s work to be done. The staff was on the road immediately after the Akron game with a push to close the Early Signing Period (Dec. 19-21).
The tough part for the Gamecocks is, even though they have the No. 21 recruiting class nationally, that’s still in the bottom third of the SEC. That’s a departure from the past three classes that each ranked in the top 10 of the SEC. The Gamecocks need a strong close.
The key piece of the recruiting class is QB Ryan Hilinski, the No. 2-ranked pro-style QB in the country, but South Carolina is set at quarterback with Jake Bentley, so Hilinski is not the kind of recruit expected to play as a freshman.
South Carolina easily had a handful of impact players from the 2018 class, so this is not only plausible, it’s likely.
Here are five recruits who can help immediately:
Cameron Smith, CB
If this season proved anything, it’s South Carolina needed more depth in the secondary. It was so bad late in the season, they played a walk-on. By the looks of visits to Columbia, and staff travel, the Gamecocks are trying to close on at least three other DB recruits, too. Smith, listed at 6-1, 175, is a talented prospect, but his talent is even more valuable because of what position he plays. Another bonus? He’s the No. 2-ranked player in the state.
Zacch Pickens, DE
The Gamecocks were 11th in the SEC in sacks, and that included 5 against Akron to close the regular season. They do get key players back like Javon Kinlaw, but the team in general needs an upgrade in production. If he signs, Pickens would be the first 5-star recruit to land at South Carolina since Jadeveon Clowney in 2011, so obviously the first for Muschamp.
Live footage of Zacch Pickens pick six! pic.twitter.com/Vl9a4fot7o
— Morgan Brown (@MorganB62333287) December 8, 2018
Pickens, who is 6-4, 268, is not only the state’s best prospect, but he’s the No. 2 SDE in the country, and No. 18 player in the country in this class. The Gatorade Player of the Year for South Carolina, Pickens showed his athleticism by rushing for more than 800 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Traevon Kenion, TE
When Hayden Hurst left for the NFL, the production from the tight end position experienced a significant drop. Hurst had 44 catches in 2017, and the top tight end this year, Kiel Pollard, had 15 catches. Now it loses K.C. Crosby and Jacob August, who had a combined 18 catches. Kenion’s 6-4, 220-pound frame also lends itself nicely to a college transition. Kenion can also split out as a wide receiver, and the Gamecocks beat out several ACC schools to reel in that talent from a top 20 player from North Carolina. He’s from the same high school (Wake Forest) that produced Clemson DE Dexter Lawrence and Stanford RB Bryce Love.
Keveon Mullins, ATH
Mullins, a 4-star, is listed as an athlete, but he is expected to play wide receiver, and help cushion the blow from the loss of Deebo Samuel. He’s arguably the best receiver in the Memphis, Tennessee area, and his 6-4, 220-pound frame is well-suited to transition to the college level. He flipped after originally committing to Memphis.
Joseph Anderson, DL
The simple reason the fourth-ranked player from Tennessee has a chance to play early is his versatility: He can play defensive end and outside linebacker, which is where he is being recruited. Along those pass rush deficiencies, the defense also loses LB Bryson Allen-Williams.
A coveted 4-star, he chose the Gamecocks over Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Tennessee, among others.