Gamecocks stand out to South Fla. LB/DE

South Carolina fans have seen what a versatile, excitable, and hard-working hybrid defensive end/linebacker like Eric Norwood can do for a defense, but Norwood won't be able to play in the Garnet and Black forever. While Norwood has a somewhat unorthodox style, the USC coaching staff has targeted a Sunshine State prospect that could be the high-motor defender's eventual replacement.

Like Norwood, 6'2", 243 pound linebacker/defensive end Antwon Higgs is not a hard guy to get excited, and he is always willing to talk football with anyone who will listen.

Higgs' dedication to the sport and hard work has begun to pay off as he now has 13 scholarship offers, including tenders from schools such as South Carolina, Wisconsin, Purdue, N.C. State, Louisville, West Virginia and Vanderbilt.

Higgs was also just named Camper of the Week at the FAU camp this week where he picked up an offer from the Owls.

One school that has managed to raise Higgs' excitement level is South Carolina as they find themselves in a very strong position for the Sunshine State native's services.

"I know I like South Carolina a lot right now," Higgs said. "It's the way they play defense. The way I play, my skills can fit into that program. They have that guy Eric Norwood that plays defensive end/linebacker. And they say that's what they're going to play me at. They're looking to play me as ‘tweener' at LB and DE to take his spot because he could be going into the NFL draft next year."

While some programs are recruiting Higgs as a defensive end and others as a linebacker, he says the fact he knows South Carolina has a spot that fits his skill-set is comforting to him.

"That's definitely why they stand out to me so well. Because other schools have been telling me, ‘We'll play you at defensive end, but you can drop back sometimes, too.' But with South Carolina I know for sure they definitely do that and that's how they play."

Higgs' recruiter of record, running backs coach Robert Gillespie, has also done his part to make Higgs feel comfortable with the South Carolina program.

"He was the first coach to give me an offer. They don't want me because who else offered me and all that, they want me because how I play," Higgs said. "He's a cool guy. Sometimes we don't talk about football. We just talk about anything that's going on in life, and he tells me to just keep my grades up and stuff."

The Gamecocks have another connection working in their favor as the Pompano Beach, Fla. native grew up with current USC defensive tackle Donte'e Nichols.

"That's another tie to South Carolina," Higgs said. "My mom and his mom graduated the same class. When South Carolina first offered me I went and called Donte'e, and he told me everything was good up there and he likes it. His family stays about four or five blocks down the road."

While the Gamecocks are in good shape with Higgs at this time, there is at least one team out there who could quickly make their way towards the top of his list if they decide to offer.

"I always grew up loving Florida. Coach Gonzalez wants me to come up their for the one-day camp on Sunday. And they said they're probably going to offer me. That's been my dream team since I was a little boy."

While the Gators would be hard to turn down, Higgs did say an offer would not automatically put them in the lead for his services.

"That would automatically make them up there. So it would be a race between South Carolina and Florida," Higgs said. "That would put them right there with South Carolina, because I haven't really looked into the depth chart at Florida like I have at South Carolina. I would want to talk to their defensive coach and see what he wants to play me as. Because Coach Johnson already knows what he's going to play me as."

One other school that has offered Higgs also has grabbed his attention.

"I would say Louisville, also. They've been coming up the last few years. They've been doing pretty good. They've got a new linebackers coach, Bill Miller, he coached at Miami and coached Ray Lewis."

Higgs plans to take visits to South Carolina and Louisville soon in addition to the Florida visit this weekend, and will make a decision sometime between the middle and the end of his senior season.

Higgs, who has an impressive 3.8 GPA, plans to then enroll early at the school of his choice.

"I want to get in that weight room and learn the playbook, because hopefully I can play as a true freshman. I want to play. I love football; it's my life."

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