Hale McGranahan/SEC Country
Led by defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson, South Carolina surrendered 20.7 points per game in 2017.

Marcus Lattimore’s message for South Carolina recruits; Gamecocks coaches hit road

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

More than a game

Marcus Lattimore, the South Carolina Gamecocks’ new director of player development, has a simple message for recruits.

“When a recruit comes to visit South Carolina, I’ll sit him down, I’ll sit his family down and let all of them know that I’m not looking at what they’re doing on the field,” Lattimore said on Friday. “We’ll take care of that because we’ve got amazing coaches for them.”

The former running back knows firsthand about life after football, having his NFL career cut short by injuries following three electric seasons at South Carolina (2010-12).

After being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, lingering effects of numerous knee injuries suffered in college forced the Spartanburg, S.C., native to retire in 2014.

On the road

South Carolina defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson was in Washington, D.C., on Friday visiting a number of prospects.

Robinson stopped by St. John’s College High School to check in on 3-star 2018 cornerback D.J. Brown and his Class of 2020 teammates, cornerback Luke Hill and outside linebacker/defensive end Mekhail Sherman.

Brown is rated as the No. 98 overall cornerback for 2018, per the 247Sports composite. Hill already boasts offers from Boston College, Virginia and Virginia Tech, among others. Sherman has been offered by Maryland, North Carolina, Penn State and Syracuse.

Looking around

Former Arkansas defensive end commit John Mincey will make an official visit to South Carolina on Jan. 26. The Homerville, Ga., native also will take official visits to Tennessee and Florida State.

“He’s really going through a lot of anxiety right now,” Jim Dickerson, Mincey’s coach at Clinch County, told SportsTalk’s Phil Kornblut. “It broke his heart to de-commit from Arkansas. Big thing about John, he’s only 17 years old. Everybody realizes what an upside he has. His stock has really just exploded the last few weeks.”

Mincey is rated as the No. 34 overall strongside defensive end for 2018, according to the 247Sports composite.

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5-star update

Five-star basketball forward Zion Williamson will announce his college decision on Saturday. The Spartanburg (S.C.) Day School standout is believed to be down to South Carolina, Clemson, Duke, Kansas and Kentucky.

“I don’t really feel any pressure at all. I can’t just go to a school to be the local hero,” Williamson said. “I have to go to the school that’s best for me. And if I don’t choose to go to an in-state school, I know everyone here will still continue to support me.”

Williamson is rated as the No. 3 overall prospect for 2018 by 247Sports.

Key stretch

On the heels of a 64-57 win against the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday, the South Carolina men’s basketball team believes it has momentum heading into a home game against the No. 18 Kentucky Wildcats on Tuesday night.

“I think we had some great practices leading up to the Georgia game, which is why we were able to pull through,” guard Hassani Gravett said, via The State’s Andrew Ramspacher. “Rah [Rakym Felder] and Brian [Bowen], the addition of them to practice, just helps all of us get even better each and every day.”

Neither player is eligible to play this season, but their presence at practice is making a difference.

The Gamecocks sit at 11-6 overall and 2-3 in the SEC heading into this pivotal two-game home stand — first against the Wildcats, then No. 21 Tennessee on Saturday.

Then there were 4

Only four former Gamecocks remain in the NFL playoffs: Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman A.J. Cann and running back Brandon Wilds, New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, per David Cloninger of the Post and Courier.

Cann started at guard for the Jaguars in their 45-42 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Jacksonville surrendered zero sacks in the game. Wilds is on the team’s practice squad.

Jeffery had 4 catches for 61 yards in Philadelphia’s 15-10 win against the Atlanta Falcons.

Gilmore, in his first year in New England, had 1 tackle and 2 passes defended in the Patriots’ 35-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

Cann and Gilmore will be on opposite sides of the field on Sunday afternoon when the Jaguars and Patriots meet in the AFC Championship Game. The Eagles host the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC title game.

‘I couldn’t ask for a better coach’

Former Florida offensive lineman Roderick Johnson has nothing but great things to say about Will Muschamp, his former coach while at Florida.

“I appreciate Coach Muschamp has ever done for me,” Johnson told John Whittle of The Big Spur. “Having a relationship with my parents, having a great on-the-field and off-the-field relationship with me, you just don’t get many coaches like that. I just appreciate Champ for everything he did for me. I love him and I couldn’t ask for a better coach. When I have kids, I want Champ to coach my kids.”

Muschamp originally recruited the former Under Armour All-American to Florida in 2013. Despite Muschamp being ousted in Gainesville, Fla., in 2014, the two have kept in touch.

While serving as Auburn’s defensive coordinator in 2015, Muschamp became a source of support for Johnson once he found out his on-field career was over because of a spinal condition.

“For me to have to go through that by myself, but for Coach Muschamp to come through and let me know I could still call him and ‘T-Rob,’ it showed me our relationship was bigger than football,” Johnson said.

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