July didn’t start with the fireworks South Carolina hoped for, but there’s a great chance that coach Will Muschamp drops a #SpursUp or two on Twitter this month.
Or maybe three. Or four…
The festivities resume on Independence Day when 3-star junior college defensive tackle Jabari Ellis heads to Orangeburg, S.C., for a 10 a.m. ET announcement at The Times & Democrat building. South Carolina and North Carolina State are his finalists.
Ellis, who’s originally from Lake Marion High School in Santee, S.C., is currently enrolled at Georgia Military College, where he’s ranked by the 247Sports composite as the No. 14 overall JUCO prospect in the 2018 class.
Columbia remains the odds-on favorite as the next stop for the 6-foot-2, 285-pound Ellis.
The next prospect on the docket is 3-star running back Lavonte Valentine, who’s set for a 4 p.m. reveal on July 4. The No. 13 all-purpose back in the country unveiled a top 7 in late May that also included Florida, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Notre Dame and Southern California.
LSU is probably full at the position since it now has commitments from three 2018 running backs. Notre Dame and the other USC have yet to score a visit. Though it hasn’t been confirmed by Valentine, Florida and South Carolina appear to be the only other schools among his finalists that actually have had him on campus.
The Gamecocks might be in the driver’s seat, because word out of Gainesville is that the Gators may be focused on other options.
Valentine (6-0, 188) plays football at Melbourne (Fla.) Central Catholic, where he rushed for 884 yards and totaled 175 receiving yards. Earlier this spring, for East Ridge High School, he won the Florida 4A state championship in the 100-meter with a time of 10.61. His best time of the season was 10.44.
That speed would be a nice complement to 3-star running back commitment Deshaun Fenwick, who was measured at just over 6-foot-1 and 223 pounds last month during camp.
Fenwick is two spots ahead of Valentine as the No. 11 all-purpose back in the country.
Also up for South Carolina
Jonathan Gipson: The 3-star defensive back has not nailed down a date for his decision, though he has said one would be made this month. July 8, his birthday, could be the date to watch. The Gamecocks remain in great position for Gipson (Hoschton, Ga.).
Jaycee Horn: It will be Alabama or South Carolina on July 15 for the 4-star cornerback from Alpharetta, Ga.
Trey Dean: South Carolina was once touted as the leader, but that does not appear to be the case now. Look for the 4-star safety from Dutchtown, Ga., to commit to Georgia or Texas on July 31.
JUCO defensive end Dorian Gerald (College of the Canyons) could pop at any moment with South Carolina or Tennessee as the primary contenders. Three-star athlete Bryce Thompson (Irmo, S.C.) once planned to announce his new commitment on July 31 (he de-committed from Virginia Tech in June), but those plans were recently scratched.