Fordham has "amazing" potential on gridiron

South Carolina picked up a commitment from Timberland (Saint Stephen, SC) athletic edge-rusher Aldrick Fordham on Tuesday night, and caught up with Timberland HS Head Coach Art Craig on Wednesday to discuss what type player the Gamecocks have landed in his standout defensive end. Read inside for all the details.

Aldrick Fordham was a late bloomer on the recruiting scene, often getting overlooked in early discussions on the top 2009 Palmetto State prospects. However, Fordham began to emerge this summer with several strong showings on the camp/combine circuit and earned offers from SEC programs South Carolina and Tennessee.

The standout defensive end, who grew up pulling for the home state Gamecocks, decided to officially put an end to the recruiting process on Tuesday night when he gave his commitment to USC Coach Steve Spurrier Jr.

According to Timberland Head Coach Art Craig, South Carolina has picked up a talented player with a world of upside in Fordham.

"South Carolina got a good one. Aldrick's been a three year starter for us. He's played defensive end, tight end, and just about every special team there is. He's been one of the main reasons for (our success). His class, they've won thirty-nine games in three years. Since about the fifth game of his freshman year, he's started every game since then," said Craig. " He's been a great player for us, and I think he's just going to get better and better. He's one of those kids that when he gets a chance to focus on just football, you're going to see some pretty amazing things out of him."

Fordham is also a renowned basketball player on the high school level, and Craig believes that the athleticism and explosiveness he's developed on the hardwood has helped him become a special caliber of player on the defensive line.

"He's a very good basketball player. He was All-State in basketball last year and was our Region Player of the Year. He's very athletic. He can sit there and squeeze and do what he's supposed to against the run. But you're going to have to be very talented as an offensive tackle to not have him go by you and make some plays. He's very athletic off the edge."

On top of his physical tools, Craig said that Fordham is an intelligent player that has a strong work ethic and a team-first attitude.

"Fundamentally, he's very sound. He's going to be at the right place at the right time. He's very coachable and is going to listen. He's a team player. He'll do whatever he needs to do to help his team win."

One reason Fordham saw his recruiting stock rise since the end of his junior season last fall is because he's continued to grow and mature physically. According to Craig, the South Carolina coaches are very excited about Fordham's long term potential because of the tremendous frame he has to grow into on the next level.

"He's grown to about 6'4" and between 235 and 240 (pounds). He's really not even the same looking kid he was at the end of football last year. He's really just gotten bigger and gotten a lot stronger. He even seems to be running a little better. He's just growing up from a maturity standpoint," he said. "He has a big frame. When he gets to concentrate just on football at South Carolina, I think he can carry 260 easy. I just think he's going to benefit so much from what they're doing in there. I think he'll go up there and get stronger and faster."

Craig has talked with USC Defensive Line Coach Brad Lawing, and he believes that Fordham will fit in well with South Carolina's plans on the defensive front in the coming years.

"Knowing Coach Lawing and what they do, I think he'll fit in well with his athleticism and how they can use him. The good thing is he's got some young people in front of him so he'll be able to grow into that position and put on more weight and get physically stronger."

Fordham, who benches 300 pounds and squats 450, projects as a weakside defensive end at South Carolina.

While USC and Tennessee were Fordham's two offers to date before committing to the Gamecocks, Craig said that another program was very close to jumping in the mix for Fordham's services last month before a twist of fate prevented it.

"Clemson was close to offering. He was supposed to go up there for one of their one day camps, but he hurt his ankle in basketball. He didn't go, but I know they were going to offer him if he had gone up there and basically done anything at their camp. They were on board pretty hard too."

In this day and age of college football, a lot of players have a tendency to get caught up in their own hype and become troubled cases off the field. However, Craig said emphatically that won't be a problem with Fordham when he arrives at South Carolina next year.

"He's a good kid. His mom and dad have instilled some good morals in him. He's a real down-to-earth kid. He's quiet, and he just does his business. He's a good young man. He won't have any problems."

The following is Southeastern Recruiting Manager Burke Hayes' evaluation of Fordham:

One of the more disciplined players in this year's class, Fordham is very productive from his DE spot. Has great length, yet has excellent upper-body strength as well. Does the little things well--stays squared up on LOS; takes care of backside responsibility; maintains gap responsibility and doesn't freelance. Has great burst off the edge, doesn't lose leverage on QBs, and uses length to force bad throws. Unlimited upside.

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