Welcome to the first edition of the South Carolina football and recruiting mailbag.
Each week, South Carolina reporter Hale McGranahan sorts through a stack of questions from Twitter and Facebook, submitted by you, the readers.
Here’s this week’s round:
What about Brad Johnson?
-Little Taadawl Al (Facebook)
Johnson spent the night in Columbia last week, after attending a one-day session at the Will Muschamp Football Camp. There are a couple of factors that are probably working in South Carolina’s favor right now.
For starters, Clemson hasn’t really been involved. That’s not to suggest they couldn’t swoop in at the last minute and snag him, but Clemson usually keeps kids from leaving the area if they push. The recent exception is former 4-star DT Michael Hill, who’s now a junior at Ohio State. Hill, by the way, is also from Pendleton.
Then there’s this: Will Muschamp’s commitment to keep the state’s best prospects coming to Columbia. And Johnson is a priority target for this staff.
The key here is to stay patient. Johnson keeps telling folks that he wants to make a decision later this year – apparently, he wants to take some official visits. That being said, everything is pointing in South Carolina’s direction.
How do you see Carolina doing this year?
-James Nix (Facebook)
Whether it’s Perry Orth, Lorenzo Nunez, Brandon McIlwain, Jake Bentley or any combination of the four, South Carolina has to get more production out of the quarterback position this season. With the state of the wide receiver corps, it won’t be easy.
Against Clemson, Deebo Samuel showed flashes of what the current coaching staff is hoping to see this fall. Bryan Edwards certainly turned heads this spring. That’s a start. Beyond those two, what’s there? We’ll see. The tight ends, Hayden Hurst and K.C. Crosby, should help make up for the lack of depth at wide receiver.
Defensively, losing Skai Moore hurts, but there are plenty of veterans back at linebacker. Relatively speaking, it’s not the worst thing that could happen, but it certainly doesn’t help. There’s some depth for Muschamp and Lance Thompson to work with on the line, so that helps. The secondary is the biggest issue, maybe the biggest on the team. Chris Lammons and company need help back there, and it’s probably safe to say JaMarcus King is going to be counted on to step in immediately.
Playing three out of the first four games on the road ain’t easy, even if two of them are against Vanderbilt and Kentucky. If they can come out of that first third of the schedule with a 3-1 record, you should feel good, unless your loss is to East Carolina in the home opener.
To me, it’s an odd schedule, but one you should feel pretty good about, since the Gamecocks don’t have to leave Columbia during the month of October. Getting Texas A&M, Georgia and Tennessee at home is awfully nice, but those are probably three of the five toughest games on the schedule. A 2-2 October is very possible. If you’re able to snag a win against one of those three league teams – A&M probably being the most likely – I think you should feel OK.
Win the battle of Columbia and you can roll into Gainesville for Muschamp’s return to The Swamp with a little bit of momentum. Either way, as it stands right now, a 2-2 November is probably the most likely scenario.
To me, this is a 7-5/6-6 team.
What about M.J. Webb?
-Thomas Crockett (Facebook)
I’ve got this idea – it’s not mine, nor did I come up with it, but I stick to it. Follow the visits. Webb has been to South Carolina several times this year. He was on campus in February for junior day, again in May and for a third time earlier this month. A return next month is also a possibility. Plus, his official visit to South Carolina has already been scheduled.
Auburn and Tennessee are very much in play, but the Gamecocks should feel good about the position they’re in as we approach July.
Is the hype real for having a legitimate shot to land Xavier Thomas? He seems to love South Carolina and the fan base.
When I was still covering Clemson, I started telling folks that I believe Xavier Thomas is a better prospect than Jadeveon Clowney. Or, I should say, I believe he should be a better prospect than Clowney. What separates Thomas from Clowney is what you’re getting off the field. Based on everything I’ve heard and experienced with Thomas, he’s good kid with good grades who wants to work.
Does South Carolina have a shot? Oh, yeah. Absolutely. The kid grew up rooting for the Gamecocks. He was a full-fledged Clemson hater and all. Now, things have changed – he doesn’t hate Clemson anymore. In fact, he likes them a lot. But he still likes South Carolina a lot, too.
This is going to be one heck of a recruiting battle to follow over the next year to year-and-a-half.
What’s the latest news on Tre Lawson from North Augusta High School?
Lawson committed to Tennessee last Saturday, while he was visiting the school for their big recruiting weekend of the summer. Given Butch Jones’ track record for pulling scholarships from committed prospects, it’s never official until the papers are signed in February.