In this South Carolina recruiting look, SEC Country takes its first look at the top 20 prospects from the state’s Class of 2018.
They’re also the favorite for the top overall prospect in the class.
20. 3-star CB Elijah Rodgers (6-1, 170): Indiana
Rodgers, who’s from Blacksburg, committed over offers from BYU, Cincinnati and Purdue. Had he not committed to Indiana in April, Rodgers probably could have hit the summer camp circuit and collected more offers. With his size and physicality, he could potentially find a home at safety, after settling in at the next level.
19. 3-star WR Demarcus Gregory (6-3, 196): Ole Miss
One of two prospects out of Byrnes High School to make the list, Gregory is one of the bigger receivers in the state’s class, which has several comparable possession-type receiving prospects. If his desire to compete wasn’t in question, Gregory would find himself ranked higher.
18. 3-star DE Eli Adams (5-11, 230): Virginia Tech
One of two prospects out of Rock Hill’s South Pointe High School to make the list, Adams is a tweener. He’s a little too small to play defensive end, but not quite fluid or fast enough to play inside linebacker. However, he’s been very productive as a pass rusher. Adams should do well as an edge player in Bud Foster’s defense.
16. ILB Khalid Jones (6-1, 220): Northwestern
The other prospect from Byrnes, Jones just feels like a good fit as an inside linebacker in the Big 10. He’s at his best between the tackles, defending against the run.
16. WR Darius Rush (6-2, 173): South Carolina
Rush has played a number of different positions over the course of his career at C.E. Murray High School, a small rural school in the Lowcountry. Though he is pretty raw as a wide receiver, Rush has good length and athleticism — he’s a state champion long and triple-jumper. Like Gregory, Rush profiles as a possession receiver.
15. OLB Jake Venables (6-2, 224): Clemson
The son of the Tigers defensive coordinator is one of several players who recently made the move from Daniel High School to Clemson. Venables could potentially play storngside defensive end in his dad’s system.
14. 3-star RB Mataeo Durant (6-0, 180): Duke
Durant was one of the first, if not the first 2018 prospect to emerge in the state. After rushing for nearly 2,000 yards as a freshman at McCormick High School, he’s been one of the state’s most productive players, even though injuries have limited him at times through his career. Durant could potentially play safety at the next level.
13. 3-star ATH Kyle Wright (6-0, 211)
Wright, who plays at the SCISA level for Ben Lippen School, could play linebacker or running back at the next level. From this perspective, the defensive side of the ball could be his best fit.
12. 3-star WR Sam Pinckney (6-3, 205)
Another possession receiver, Pinckney gets the edge among those types in this class. He’s big, high-points the ball, makes contested catches. But, like the others, speed is a question-mark for the Greenwood prospect.
11. 3-star OL Wyatt Campbell (6-6, 285): South Carolina
Tough. Nasty. Physical. Plays with an edge. Better than average athlete. Campbell could work at a couple of different positions along the Gamecocks offensive line.
10. 3-star OL Hank Manos (6-4, 275): South Carolina
Tough. Nasty. Physical. Plays with an edge. Better than average athlete. Sound familiar? Manos, however, profiles as a center for the Gamecocks. He’s also a state champion heavyweight wrester, which is always a good thing for a lineman.
9. S R.J. Roderick (6-0, 205): South Carolina
8. 3-star ATH Bryce Thompson (6-0, 185)
Thompson could play defensive back or wide receiver at the next level, but this observer likes what he could potentially add as a slot receiver. The Irmo-Dutch Fork prospect doesn’t very good top-end speed, but he’s an outstanding route-runner, shifty in confined spaces and has good change of direction.
7. 3-star TE Braden Galloway (6-3, 218): Clemson
A basketball player before he joined the Seneca football team as a junior, Galloway is more prospect than player right now, but he’s a really good athlete who runs well. There’s a lot of upside there, though he looks a little inconsistent as a pass-catcher.
6. 3-star OL Raiqwon O’Neal (6-5, 260): Rutgers
Two of his teammates from Conway High School received consideration for the list, but O’Neal is among the top overall prospects in the state because he could play on either side of the ball. The Gamecocks offered him to play defensive — probably a 3-technique tackle — but he’ll sign with Rutgers to play offense. His future on that side of the ball, probably, is at tackle.
5. 4-star DT Josh Belk (6-4, 305): Clemson
Another Clemson commitment who’s more of a prospect than a player right now. Belk’s upside is through the roof. If things don’t work out as a defensive tackle, he could be a pretty effective offensive guard.
4. 3-star WR Dennis Smith (6-2, 185): Duke
Of all of the possession-type receivers in the state, Smith has some ability as a potential threat in the downfield passing game. He’s a natural pass-catcher and a strong route-runner. He’ll be a productive player for David Cutcliffe at Duke.
3. 4-star QB Dakereon Joyner (6-2, 200): South Carolina
Joyner led Fort Dorchester to the school’s first football state championship as a sophomore. Since taking over as the starter midway through his freshman season, he’s been one of the most productive players in the state. Joyner is elite athlete. He squats over 400 pounds, so he’s pretty darn strong, too. As a passer, he still has work to do.
2. 4-star WR Derion Kendrick (6-1, 195): Clemson
Kendrick helped snap Clemson’s cold streak at South Pointe High School. He’ll be an effective player for the Tigers at wide receiver, but his future might be brighter as a safety. But he is pretty darn explosive with the ball in his hands.
1. 4-star OLB Channing Tindall (6-2, 213)
Tindall is an elite athlete who will be a versatile defender at the next level. Depending on the system, he could play inside linebacker, outside linebacker or even some as a defensive end, on passing downs.