Will Muschamp and the South Carolina coaches have secured 19 commitments for the 2018 signing class, eight of whom will play on defense.
As of Tuesday, Aug. 15, the Gamecocks class is ranked No. 24 in the country and seventh among SEC teams, according to 247Sports.
Below is SEC Country’s first mock signing class for South Carolina’s defense in 2018:
Committed: Kingsley Enagbare, Tyreek Johnson
Analysis: Johnson, a 3-star prospect from Sumter, S.C., signed with South Carolina in February, but his enrollment was deferred until January of 2018 because of a shoulder injury. In July, he was back on campus with his former Lakewood High School teammates as they worked out during the Will Muschamp Football Camp.
Enagbare was among the campers that afternoon. A few days later, the 3-star recruit from Hapeville Charter in Atlanta announced a commitment to the Gamecocks over offers from Georgia and Georgia Tech.
RELATED: Mock class — offense
Both prospects are classified by the 247Sports composite as strongside defensive ends — the same position Dante Sawyer plays. Like Sawyer, Johnson and Enagbare (6-foot-4, 287 pounds) could line up at end or tackle, depending on the opponent/situation.
Three notable defensive end targets have committed to other schools: Dorian Gerald (Tennessee), Xavier Thomas (Clemson) and Stephon Wynn (Alabama). Flipping Thomas is highly unlikely, but the door is still cracked for Gerald and Wynn.
Committed: Dantrell Barkley, Jabari Ellis
Analysis: Barkley was first to commit. The 3-star prospect from Independence Community College committed in June, after a camp workout for Muschamp and assistant Lance Thompson. Ellis, who also camped that month, announced on July 4.
Barkley, a Kannapolis, N.C., native, is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 5 JUCO defensive tackle. Ellis, who’s at Georgia Military Academy, is the No. 9 defensive tackle. He played high school ball at Lake Marion in Santee, S.C., before moving on to the JUCO ranks.
At South Carolina, Barkley (6-4, 285) will have three years to play three seasons. Ellis (6-2, 280) is on track to have three to play two.
For now, 4-star recruit Rick Sandidge (Concord, N.C.) looks like the primary target left on the board, though 3-star prospect Tramel Walthour (Hinesville, Ga.) includes South Carolina among his favorites. The assumption is that he’ll stay in state and sign with the Dawgs.
Sandidge, on the other hand, continues to be perceived as a South Carolina lean. The Gamecocks will go the distance as he slowly makes his way toward a commitment. Georgia, Michigan and North Carolina are among the primary challengers.
Committed: Ernest Jones IV
Analysis: Jones announced his commitment to South Carolina on May 5, as a tip of the cap to linebackers coach Coleman Hutzler, who also celebrated a birthday that day.
Jones (6-2, 205) committed to South Carolina over offers from Duke, Florida and Georgia Tech. He’s currently ranked as the No. 66 outside linebacker in the country. Jones could line up inside or outside for the Gamecocks.
The top 2 remaining targets are 4-star prospects Dax Hollifield (Shelby, N.C.) and Channing Tindall (Columbia, S.C.).
Hollifield is five official visits away from making a decision — Florida State, North Carolina, Stanford and Virginia Tech are the competitors. A commitment probably won’t be made until the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Tindall continues to favor South Carolina over Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Georgia.
Committed: Marlon Character Jr., Jonathan Gipson and RJ Roderick
Analysis: An option quarterback at Cane Bay High School in Summerville, S.C., Roderick committed to the Gamecocks in June as a safety. At 6 feet, 207 pounds, he profiles as a strong safety, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Roderick eventually grows into an outside linebacker.
Gipson, a 3-star recruit from Mill Creek High School in Hoschton, Ga., committed on the last day of July. A day later, Character, a former Auburn cornerback who’s now enrolled at a junior college, jumped on board.
A handful of targets remain, including former 5-star prospect Saivion Smith, who transferred to a junior college after one year at LSU. Smith added an offer from Alabama on Monday, so South Carolina will certainly have its work cut out.
South Carolina continues to battle for 4-star cornerback Jaycee Horn (Alpharetta, Ga.), who’s also considering Alabama and Tennessee.