In this South Carolina recruiting story, SEC Country takes its second look at the top-20 prospects from the state’s Class of 2018.
20. 3-star WR Demarcus Gregory (6-3, 196): Ole Miss
One of two prospects from Byrnes High School to make the list, Demarcus Gregory is one of the bigger receivers in the state’s class, which has several comparable possession-type receiving prospects. He’s missed time this season with a knee injury.
19. 3-star CB Elijah Rodgers (6-1, 170): Indiana
Elijah Rodgers, who’s from Blacksburg, committed to the Hoosiers over offers from BYU, Cincinnati and Purdue. With his size and physicality, he could find a home at safety at the next level. South Carolina hosted him during the Kentucky game.
18. ILB Khalid Jones (6-1, 220): Northwestern
The other prospect from Byrnes, Khalid Jones feels like a good fit as an inside linebacker in the Big Ten. He’s at his best between the tackles, defending against the run.
17. OLB Jake Venables (6-2, 224): Clemson
The son of Tigers defensive coordinator Brent Venables plays at Daniel High School, where several Tigers players went before him. Jake Venables could play strongside defensive end in his dad’s system.
16. 3-star DE Eli Adams (5-11, 230): Virginia Tech
Since Xavier Thomas and Stephon Wynn Jr. are both at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., Eli Adams is the best pass-rush prospect in the state for 2018.
15. 3-star ATH Kyle Wright (6-0, 211): Temple
Kyle Wright, who plays at the SCISA level for Ben Lippen School, could play linebacker or running back at the next level. He’ll join his teammate, quarterback Trad Beatty, at Temple.
14. WR Darius Rush (6-2, 173): South Carolina
Darius Rush is putting up impressive numbers as a full-time wide receiver for C.E. Murray High School. Before this season, most of his career was spent at quarterback and running back.
13. 3-star RB Mataeo Durant (6-0, 180): Duke
Mataeo Durant was one of the first, if not the first, 2018 prospect to emerge in the state. After rushing for nearly 2,000 yards as a freshman at McCormick High School, he’s been one of the state’s most productive players, even though injuries have limited him at times. Durant could potentially play safety at the next level.
12. 3-star WR Sam Pinckney (6-3, 205)
Another possession receiver, Sam Pinckney gets the edge among those types in this class. He’s big, high-points the ball and makes contested catches. Straight-line speed is a bit of a concern.
11. S R.J. Roderick (6-0, 205): South Carolina
R.J. Roderick recently set the all-time rushing mark at Cane Bay High School (Summerville), but his season ended prematurely with a back injury, which bothered him throughout the summer. From this perspective, there’s reason for concern there, as it relates to his long-term future.
10. 3-star OL Wyatt Campbell (6-6, 285): South Carolina
Tough. Nasty. Physical. Plays with an edge. Better-than-average athlete. Wyatt Campbell could work at a couple of different positions along the Gamecocks offensive line, either inside of outside.
9. 3-star OL Hank Manos (6-4, 275): South Carolina
Hank Manos, a Shrine Bowl participant, was invited to play in the Under Armour All-American Game. He’ll play center for the Gamecocks, too.
8. 3-star ATH Bryce Thompson (6-0, 185)
Bryce Thompson could play defensive back or wide receiver, but this observer likes what he could potentially add as a slot receiver. The Irmo-Dutch Fork prospect is reportedly considering Marshall and Georgia State, in addition to South Carolina. Grades might force him to go another route.
7. 3-star TE Braden Galloway (6-3, 218): Clemson
A basketball player before he joined the Seneca football team as a junior, Braden Galloway is more prospect than player right now, but he’s a really good athlete who runs well. There’s a lot of upside there, though he looks inconsistent as a pass catcher.
6. 3-star OL Raiqwon O’Neal (6-5, 260): Rutgers
Raiqwon O’Neal is committed to play along the offensive line at Rutgers, which is probably where he has the brightest future, but South Carolina’s staff liked him to play on defense.
5. 4-star DT Josh Belk (6-4, 305): Clemson
Another Clemson commitment who’s more of a prospect than a player right now. Josh Belk’s upside is through the roof. If things don’t work out as a defensive tackle, he could be an effective guard.
4. 3-star WR Dennis Smith (6-2, 185): Duke
Since returning from a shoulder injury, Dennis Smith has caught 36 passes for 491 yards and 3 touchdowns.
3. 4-star QB Dakereon Joyner (6-2, 200): South Carolina
Dakereon Joyner is putting up monster numbers this season, but he’s doing it in the first half of games, because Fort Dorchester is blowing teams out.
2. 4-star OLB Channing Tindall (6-2, 213)
Channing Tindall is an elite athlete who will be a versatile defender. South Carolina continues to battle Auburn, Florida and Georgia, among others.
1. 4-star WR Derion Kendrick (6-1, 195): Clemson
Derion Kendrick could be a top-flight prospect at several different positions, not just wide receiver. If he fully invested in playing quarterback, he’d be the state’s top prospect at that position, too. The same could be said for safety.