Jeffery: 'We can lead the way'

The South Carolina Gamecocks' Big Recruiting Weekend is just a day away and several top targets as well as many prospects already verbally committed to USC will be on campus. One South Carolina big-time commitment who wouldn't think of missing this weekend is Columbia High star DaMario Jeffery. Read inside as Jeffery discusses his big plans for this weekend and his goals for the class of 2009.

In big-time college football the official visit is highly coveted. Division 1 football programs are allowed 56 per year. And prospects are allowed a maximum of just five, with no two visits going to the same school. While prospects can take unofficials at any time and as many times as they can afford, the official visit is a school's one opportunity to truly roll out the red carpet and treat a prospect to a good time. It is also a prospects' opportunity to take an otherwise impossible near-all-expenses paid trip to some of the top spots in the country.

This weekend South Carolina will play host to many official visitors including USC verbal commitment and hometown Columbia High star DaMario Jeffery. While Jeffery could sit back, relax and have an amazing care-free weekend, the talented senior has other plans. Rather than simply allowing USC to show him a good time, Jeffery will spend most of the weekend working other prospects to join him as a Gamecock.

"It should be a great week…well I hope it will be a great week," Jeffery said. "We've got a lot of guys coming in (who are) committed and a couple of guys who aren't committed we're going to work on getting, and see what their interest is in South Carolina."

Among the players Jeffery will be recruiting this weekend are top South Carolina targets Alshon Jeffrey, Quinton Washington and Travante Stallworth.

While it will be Jeffery's only official visit to South Carolina, he is no stranger to recruiting other players. Jeffery, along with teammate and best friend Chris Payne, has been on a mission ever since he joined Payne as a USC commitment on the first day of August. The mission: bring the a first ever SEC Championship to the University of South Carolina.

"Me and him have a passion for football and we want to help South Carolina and any way we can help before we get there we will do it," Jeffery says. "We want to show them that we can be leaders already, that we can lead the way in recruiting and getting guys in there."

That leadership started with Payne, who set the example by taking the first step and committing in March. Then Jeffery jumped on board and two and a half months later Stephon Gilmore joined the party. Then came Holloman, a month to the day later, then Jarvis Giles took a leap of faith in December, spurning Tennessee and Nebraska in the process. And the group seemingly hasn't stopped recruiting since.

The far-reaching, tireless approach Payne and Jeffery have taken has not only helped the Carolina coaches with the guys they knew they wanted, but Payne and Jeffery have found a few prospects of their own who were interested along the way.

On a trip to the Under Armour All-American game in Orlando, Fla. Jeffery, along with Gilmore, discovered four-star Penn State commitment Darrell Givens, who has family in Rock Hill and a real interest in South Carolina.

"I was just talking to him at the Under Armour game and he was real cool and I liked the way he played," Jeffery said. "I told Coach Beamer and them about him, because he was telling me he was interested in South Carolina. It's a good chance (we can possibly turn him), but he's still firmly committed to Penn State so from here to signing day is going to be a hard thing."

Like any good recruiter, Jeffery and Payne have a specific recruiting pitch for the prospects they are trying to have join them. They believe this class, as a whole, not as a group of individuals can be a difference maker for an entire program. A program with great potential that has been mired in mediocrity since its onset. A program that is in need of a fortifying group to change the course it is set upon.

"You've got to have a bunch of guys who want to win," Jeffery said." And a lot of us are used to winning. None of us really came from losing programs. So we're not going to win all through high school and come to college and say we're going to lose now. We want to bring that to college as well."

That passion and winning attitude could lead to bigger and better things, Jeffery says. He has a goal for the program, very similar to the one set by Steve Spurrier the day he accepted the job at South Carolina.

"I'm hoping first off we get the first SEC Championship at South Carolina, that's the start" Jeffery said. "Like everyone is always saying they want a National Championship, but first thing we need an SEC Championship. If we get there and are the better team, we'll make the National Championship."

A huge prize in exchange for a few hundred hours on the phone and the fun of a carefree official visit lost while recruiting, if you ask Jeffery.

"It would mean a lot because a lot of great players have come through South Carolina since they joined the SEC and none of them had the chance to win an SEC Championship," Jeffery says. "For me, if I was to do it, I would feel very honored, plus I live in South Carolina so they would remember my name. If we end up doing it a lot of guys will be saying, ‘I knew those guys were good guys,' and (South Carolina) might just end up being a powerhouse because of us."

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