Montgomery emerging as one of nation's best

Greenwood (SC) 4-star defensive end Sam Montgomery has exploded onto the recruiting scene in recent weeks, picking up offers from major programs like Southern Cal, Florida, Miami and Alabama. As a result, many now project the explosive lineman to be the top overall prospect in the Palmetto State's Class of 2009. Read inside as reports the latest on Montgomery's recruitment.

Many recruits would be overwhelmed by the onslaught of attention that Montgomery has received in recent weeks. However, the 6'5", 220 pound defensive end, who runs a sub 4.5 second forty yard dash, is enjoying the attention he's receiving on the recruiting front and is in the process of taking it all in.

"It's been a great privilege and a great opportunity," said Montgomery. "I've gotten to meet a lot of people, and I plan to meet a lot more people. I'm taking pictures and having fun in beautiful places. It's serious too, though. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity you get to take, so I'm looking forward to meeting new people, seeing new things and finding a second home."

Montgomery made his first unofficial visit to South Carolina over the weekend to see what all the home state Gamecocks have to offer, and the elite prospect came away very impressed with what he saw.

"It was a great, great trip. It was a beautiful campus. I took a lot of pictures. It was just a beautiful place to be and a lovely setting. They have great people, a great atmosphere and a great campus. The coaches are very strong and straight forward men. It was all great and really nice."

According to Montgomery, he learned several new things about USC while on campus over the weekend.

"They're building a new academic center, which is a great thing. I also didn't know that the campus was so big and so spread out. I'd never seen it from that angle. It's a great, beautiful place. They're enlarging the locker rooms and making a lot of changes. By the time my class is up there, USC is going to be a great place to go. There's new things, and they're building a strong program. It sounds pretty good."

Montgomery also had the opportunity to talk extensively with USC's defensive line coach Brad Lawing, and he was thoroughly impressed by what he heard from the veteran position coach.

"I talked with Coach (Brad) Lawing. Basically we talked about academics. We talked about my books and my major (Montgomery plans to be a certified public accountant.) The other part of the talk was mainly about the depth chart for USC at my end position. He told me straight up that the best man will play, which I wouldn't have it any other way. As long as I have a fair opportunity, I know I'm going to outwork my (competition). He showed me a little bit of the highlight film. It was a nice highlight film. Syvelle Newton sings on it. Coach Lawing seems like a very straight forward man. He's been a lot of places, and he knows a lot of techniques. He takes his job very seriously. Therefore, I'm sure he's going to have a great year this year."

Montgomery, who visited Clemson unofficially for the Tigers' junior day last month, also has a positive impression of what CU has to offer.

"Clemson was a great atmosphere. They have very nice people. You can go into Clemson's town, and you can make friends real quick and real easy. The coaches are great people. It's a really nice place with a really nice campus."

The Palmetto State standout does not claim any favorites at this point in the recruiting process, but he's admittedly most familiar with the two major in-state programs. Montgomery has already visited Clemson a few times in recent months, and he said that he plans to give Carolina an equal number of visits so that the playing field is even between the Gamecocks and Tigers.

"I'm going to give USC a couple of more visits. I want to get to know them and their coaches better and more about their players and their program. I'm going to keep on until I've got an even relationship and familiarity with both South Carolina's and Clemson's campuses and their academic programs so I know them like the back of my hand. I'm going to give an equal shot to every school I go to."

Montgomery plans to wait until next February before announcing his college decision, but he already knows of several factors that he'll look for when the time comes to decide on his college choice.

"I'll probably decide thirty minutes before Signing Day," he said. "The first thing I'll look for is a strong academic program. The second thing is they have to have a great community, great people and great coaches. The third thing would have to be a strong brotherhood. The team must be close, and everybody has to be on the same page, trying to achieve the same goal. That means taking the coaches' dreams and aspirations and putting them into thought and turning them into actual reality."

Another factor that could play into Montgomery's decision is where his good friend and fellow Class of 2009 prospect Justice Cunningham decides to play his college ball. Cunningham, who plays for Central High School in Pageland, SC, visited USC with Montgomery over the weekend, and the two are strongly considering attending the same school.

"We plan on (playing together in college). We plan on doing big things together. We plan on probably going to the same school. We played AAU basketball together on a couple of good teams, and out of all the guys I played with, I could come to Justice and talk with him about anything regardless of if we were being silly or being serious. We're great friends, and you look out for people like that. It's a blessing."

Montgomery, who recorded 44 solo tackles, 20 sacks, 18 tackles for loss, 4 forced fumbles and 5 fumble recoveries in his junior season, closed by describing what type of player he is on the football field.

"As a defensive lineman, I'd describe myself as a person that doesn't stop until the whistle's blown. I get to the football no matter what, no matter how. I don't give up and don't stop running. I go full speed every down and don't take plays off."

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