The Opening, Nike’s premier football recruiting camp of the year, finished up its near week-long run of workouts, combine and competitions in Beaverton, Ore.
Along with a team of reporters from SEC Country, a handful of South Carolina recruits were on hand for the event. Here’s the latest on where things stand for some of those prospects, plus additional news on the South Carolina recruiting front.
Muschamp’s success critical for 5-star DE
Like most folks who root for South Carolina, 5-star DE Xavier Thomas is eagerly anticipating the start of the Will Muschamp era. For Thomas, there’s a little more to it. The Gamecocks success, or lack thereof, could play a role in determining where he commits at the end of the season.
“People think I don’t have a lot of interest in them, because they’re coming off a bad season, but I’m really looking forward to seeing how they do this season,” he said.
“I’m really looking forward to what they’re going to accomplish this season. They have a very good coaching staff …”
— Xavier Thomas 1️⃣9️⃣ (@atxlete) July 10, 2016
The rising junior from Wilson High School (Florence, S.C.) has been to more than 10 games at Williams-Brice Stadium, so it was no surprise when South Carolina was included in his top four on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s just tradition. I think it holds over 82,000. I’ve been to the games where the crowd gets wild,” Thomas said.
Analysis: South Carolina and Clemson are considered to be the top two schools vying for Thomas’ commitment. Not only was Florida State first to offer, but former Seminoles linebacker Lawrence Timmons also went to Wilson High School. However, Tallahassee, Fla., is a long drive from Florence, and so is Columbus, Ohio. It’s shaping up to be an in-state battle for the ages between Clemson and South Carolina.
Update on the pursuit of a second RB
Even with 3-star Kyshaun Bryan (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) already on board for South Carolina’s 2017 class, the Gamecocks continue to pursue their options for a second running back.
North Carolina transfer Ty’Son Williams continues to wait for the word from the university’s admissions office. That’s according to what he told SEC Country on Sunday afternoon.
Earlier in the weekend, 3-star Chase Hayden, who’s from Collierville, Tenn., shared his thoughts about South Carolina at The Opening.
“I like them a lot. Coach Muschamp is just a real straight-forward guy,” Hayden said. “He’s going to work you hard in practice. I went to one of their practices and they work really hard. I know they work in the weight room hard, so they look like they’re a competitive group.”
Arkansas, Michigan, Missouri and Oklahoma State are listed with South Carolina among his favorites.
“Just the right fit for me, relationship with coaches and an opportunity to compete early to play,” Hayden said, when asked about deciding factors.
South Carolina has made the right impression.
“I just have a really good relationship with coach (Bobby) Bentley, the running backs coach. They’re kind of young, so they don’t have a lot of depth at the running back position,” Hayden said. “There’s an opportunity to come in and compete early.”
Skinny: There’s no guarantee that South Carolina will take another running back with this class. At one time, Hayden looked to be headed for the Gamecocks, but things changed after he visited in June. For now, Arkansas looks to be in the driver’s seat. Could Williams be the reason? Maybe they’re good with Bryan. Only time will tell.
South Carolina was a topic of conversation among the guys on the Fly Rush team at The Opening. The team’s roster included several Gamecocks targets, including Hayden and 4-star cornerbacks Jamyest Williams (Loganville, Ga.) and A.J. Terrell (Atlanta).
“Out here with Jamyest and A.J., we were talking about South Carolina, just the facilities and stuff,” Hayden said.
— Jamyest Williams (@Jamy0602) July 10, 2016
Terrell told SEC Country over the weekend that South Carolina in his lead group. Alabama, Clemson and Florida are thought to be the primary contenders.
Skinny: Williams continues to trend in South Carolina’s direction. Clemson and Georgia were thought to be among the top contenders, early on, but the Tigers haven’t made him a priority. And Georgia could be loading up on other cornerbacks, too. South Carolina doesn’t appear to be a serious factor with Terrell.
The SpursUp Cookout
Late last week, the initial list of confirmed guest for the SpursUp Cookout was released. There are a few more names worth passing along, including 2017 LB Sherrod Green (Rocky Mount, N.C) and 2018 RB Master Teague III (Murfreesboro, Tenn.).
Most of South Carolina’s 2017 commitments are expected to there, including LB Davonne Bowen, LB Eldridge Thompson and OT Eric Douglas.
Skinny: Next week will be another busy one for the South Carolina staff, but the fruits of their labor could pay off with another commitment or two at the cookout on July 23.