Top Five 2007 Signees To Play Early
Honorable Mention: Chris Culliver, Sam Pope, Jonathan Williams, Akeem Auguste, Jason Barnes
#5. DT Ladi Ajiboye
After signing with Virginia Tech out of high school, Ajiboye needed a year of prep school in order to qualify. The 6'2, 300 pound Riverdale, Georgia native used that year at Hargrave Military Academy to completely reshape his body, and he is now physically ready to compete in the rigors of the SEC. Ajiboye has uncanny athleticism for a player his size, and he excels at knifing into the backfield to pressure and disrupt opposing offenses. The Gamecocks return an assortment of defensive tackles to the roster, but Ajiboye is as physically gifted as any of them. With the luxury of going through spring practice, he could potentially make some noise on the defensive depth chart.
#4. S Mark Barnes
This local product has the size, athleticism, and natural football instincts to make an immediate impact in a Gamecock secondary that lacked playmakers in the 2006 season. Many believe that Barnes, who is rated as the #6 safety in America by Scout.com, is the best safety prospect to come out of the Palmetto State since former USC standout Ko Simpson. Barnes dazzled everyone with his playmaking ability during the week of the Shrine Bowl, and he will have the opportunity to work into the rotation very early with the Gamecocks.
#3. DE Travian Robertson
Robertson, who elected to enroll at USC in January, has already gained the respect of his coaches and teammates by being a workhorse in the weight room during winter conditioning. The 6'4, 245 pound Robertson is a hard nosed player who possesses the size and natural ability to contribute immediately at the depth deprived defensive end position for the Gamecocks. Depending on how much he progresses in the spring, Robertson could potentially even challenge for a starting spot in fall camp.
#2. DE Cliff Matthews
Much like Robertson, Matthews will be relied upon to make an early impact on the Gamecock defense. The Cheraw, SC native, who is rated as a 5-star prospect by Scout.com, has one of the quickest first steps in the country, and he is expected to help provide a much needed pass rush for the Gamecocks. After claiming defensive MVP honors at both the Shrine Bowl and the Offense-Defense All American Game, Matthews is now ready to take his skills to the next level, and he has already set a personal goal to break USC's freshman sack record in the fall.
#1. WR Larry Freeman
With the departure of Sidney Rice to the NFL, the Gamecocks have a huge need at wide receiver in 2007. After signing what many consider to be the best wide receiver class in the country, no one player will be counted on to contribute more from that group next season than 4-star JUCO standout Larry Freeman. The 6'2, 220 pound Freeman is a physical receiver who has the ability to make plays in the open field and excels at gaining yards after contact. He has incredibly soft hands, and he developed a knack for making clutch catches in the junior college ranks. With Kenny McKinley being the only proven receiver returning to the roster, Freeman will have every opportunity to step in and help fill the void left by Rice.
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