Every year, South Carolina and Clemson settle the score on the field, leaving one fan-base with bragging rights over the other for the next 12 months.
On occasion, the Gamecocks and Tigers will do battle on the recruiting trail, which adds another layer of competition for heartiest of trash talkers.
Below are five players from the state of South Carolina who could make an impact on this Saturday’s game in Clemson. All five listed the Gamecocks and Tigers among their top choices coming out of high school.
LG Zack Bailey – South Carolina
At the start of summer 2014, it appeared that Clemson was in the driver’s seat for Bailey, a 4-star guard from Summerville. He’d just spent multiple days on campus for the Dabo Swinney Football Camp and the folks in Tigertown were optimistic about their chances.
But appearances were a bit deceiving. Bailey stopped by South Carolina’s campus just days alter to meet with Steve Spurrier and his staff. By the end of the summer, he was committed to the Gamecocks.
In February of 2015, Bailey signed with South Carolina.
WR Bryan Edwards – South Carolina
Edwards first arrived on the recruiting scene during his freshman year at Conway High School. In December, once his freshman film began to circulate, he was offered by the Gamecocks and Tigers on consecutive days. Before no time it was apparent where his interest was.
Clemson hosted Edwards for countless unofficial visits during his first couple of years in high school. But as time wore on, the message was received that he would not be a take in their 2016 wide receiver haul. In March of his junior year, Edwards committed to South Carolina.
Interest in the Gamecocks wavered that fall when Spurrier quit in the middle of the season. Two days after he de-committed in November, Edwards showed up to Clemson as an official visitor. However, the Tigers were taking him as a safety.
Edwards wanted to play wide receiver, and all along that’s where South Carolina said he would play. He re-committed in mid-December and enrolled a few weeks later.
CB Cordrea Tankersley – Clemson
When former Clemson offensive coordinator Billy Napier unearthed Tankersley, not a lot of folks knew about the junior athlete from Silver Bluff High School in Aiken.
The in-state schools did a good job of keeping Tankersley under the radar, because they were his only offers for a majority of his recruitment. However, this proved to be a one-sided race.
Tankersley spent a season at Hargrave Military Academy getting his academics in order before he enrolled at Clemson in 2013.
WR Mike Williams – Clemson
Growing up, Williams was a Gamecock fan. That was the allegiance that a lot of his family near Santee had, too. Though South Carolina was asserting itself as the in-state power over Clemson, the Tigers style of play was more appealing.
The turning point in Williams’ recruitment was the 2011 season. While the Gamecocks were pounding the rock with Marcus Lattimore, Brandon Wilds and Kenny Miles, the Tigers were pitching the ball all over the yard to Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins and Dwayne Allen.
Williams wanted to play in an offense that focused on putting the ball in the hands of its receivers, and the Clemson staff sold him on opportunity to step in once Hopkins left for the NFL. Williams committed to Clemson in July of 2012.
LT Mason Zandi – South Carolina
In June of 2011, before the start of his senior season at Chapin High School, Zandi went from an unknown defensive lineman to highly-coveted offensive lineman. He camped at South Carolina and Clemson that month and scored offers from both.
It wasn’t long before Zandi said no thanks to the Tigers and committed to the Gamecocks. For him, the decision was a no-brainer. Having grown up just up I-26 from Columbia, Zandi was a lifelong fan.