Elite in-state DE talks the latest

Richland Northeast (Columbia, SC) 4-star defensive end Chris Bonds is considered by many to be one of the top defensive prospects in America this recruiting year, and the athletic lineman was on hand last weekend to take in South Carolina's annual Garnet and Black Spring Game. Read inside as Bonds talks about his experience at USC and discusses all the latest in his recruitment.

Bonds, who measures in at an imposing 6'4" and 270 pounds, has made multiple unofficial visits to South Carolina over the past few years and is very familiar with what the Gamecocks have to offer, but he still enjoyed his time at USC's spring game.

"It was just good to see some football. It had been a while since I'd seen some football. It was nice to see Carolina back in action, watching Rodney (Paulk) and Mark (Barnes) - two guys I played with my freshman year. It was good to see them on the field doing their thing," said Bonds. "I talked with Chris Payne when I was up there. He's committed, and he's always talking to me. He's trying to get me up there and he's a good guy. Overall, I had a good time."

According to Bonds, he also got to interact with the South Carolina coaches while he was on campus, including his potential position coach at USC - Brad Lawing.

"Me and Coach (David) Reaves are always talking. He's always on top of me as my recruiter," he said. "I talked with Coach Lawing before and after the game. He was telling me about the schemes that Coach (Ellis) Johnson wants to run as the new defensive coordinator. He talked about how he likes good pass rushing ends that can also drop back in coverage. He just tells me how much he wants me to come there. He thinks of me as a versatile player, and that's what he wants me to be if I come there."

Whenever Bonds makes the short drive to USC, he always enjoys catching up with his two former high school teammates that play for the Gamecocks.

"To talk to Rodney and Mark is an exciting thing because they're home town heroes. It's cool to talk to them, and Mark is always on top of me. He's always asking me what's up and who I'm looking at and stuff. It's just great to see them."

The Gamecocks were the first program to offer Bonds and have been recruiting him ever since his freshman year at RNE, which has not gone unnoticed by the Palmetto State standout. That's led to a strong comfort level with the USC coaches and players, and Bonds believes that Steve Spurrier has the Gamecocks headed for great things in the coming years.

"They've been recruiting me since I was a freshman, so it's weird to travel to all of these other schools when this is my first time meeting them and Carolina has been there for a while. I definitely think South Carolina will be a great program in a couple years, if not this year. I think they could go very far this year. It's definitely a good program in my mind. Me and Coach Lawing are very close, and he's learned from some of the best defensive coaches."

While Bonds is very familiar with the home state Gamecocks, he has an offer list that rivals any prospect's in the country and is keeping an open mind as a result. With offers in hand from major programs like Alabama, Georgia, Miami, Southern Cal, Michigan, Notre Dame, Tennessee and many others, Bonds plans to enjoy the recruiting process and perform his due diligence before naming any frontrunners.

"I'm keeping an open mind to everything. I'm just an open minded person, and there are so many schools and so many options right now. I don't really have any frontrunners simply because I've still got about six more months to decide. When you've got a decision of this magnitude you want to weigh all your options."

Bonds plans on taking all five official visits before coming to a final decision sometime after Christmas.

"I want to use my officials to go to places that I can't go in a weekend. I think most of my officials will be far away - Southern California, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Miami. I just want to use them to see places that I wouldn't normally be able to drive to. For example I've visited Georgia and Alabama simply because they're within driving distance," he said. "I'm planning to (make a decision) after Christmas because I'm playing in the Shrine Bowl and all these other bowls that they have now. Hopefully after I get all that out of the way I can sit down and decide where I want to go. That way by February I can be solid with my decision."

Bonds closed by discussing a few key factors that he'll look for when deciding on his college choice.

"Definitely the campus and academics. It's a big thing to graduate from college because you make so much more money in a lifetime if you have your college diploma. The last thing would probably be just how well I fit in at that school. I don't want to go somewhere where I don't like it there and by the end of the first semester I'm ready to come home. Then I would've just wasted a few months of my life on the wrong decision. That's mostly why I want to take my officials to schools that are further away so I can see how well I would fit in."

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