The Daily Anthem... 5/21
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GAMECOCKS OFFER BYRNES PROSPECT
South Carolina had been evaluating Byrnes athlete Nick Jones for some time, and on Wednesday the Gamecocks pulled the trigger on extending an offer to the speedy in-state prospect. Jones is versatile and is capable of playing many positions, but most believe that wide receiver will be his best position on the college level.
The 5-9, 171 pounder has been timed running below a 4.4 second forty yard dash, and he is a shifty, elusive player with the ball in his hands. You can watch film of Jones by checking out his Scout.com profile.
I texted back and forth with Jones last night. South Carolina is his first major offer, and the Gamecocks are now considered the clear team to beat. He loves USC and really likes the idea of staying close to home to play major college football. At this point, I believe it's very possible that Jones will fall USC's way by the end of the summer.
In addition to Jones being a versatile and speedy football prospect, he is also long time friends with five-star phenom Marcus Lattimore. I spoke with both Lattimore and Jones a few months back following USC's junior day, and they both mentioned how much they want to play together in college. Lattimore told me that whichever school/s offered Jones would have a great shot at landing him and that Jones would have a direct impact on his recruitment. Obviously Lattimore will ultimately make his own choice, but I believe the Gamecocks will be tough to beat in the long run with Lattimore if and when Jones pulls the trigger for USC.
"SUPER MARIO" TO VISIT USC THIS WEEKEND
I talked with Coffeyville (KS) dynamic athlete Eddie "Super Mario" Jones yesterday and confirmed that he will be making an unofficial visit to USC this weekend beginning on Friday. Jones has been keeping in touch with South Carolina wide receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr., and "Bubba" has told him that the Gamecocks have plenty of bigger receivers but that they have a need for smaller, gamebreaking slot receivers like him.
Jones, a former Myrtle Beach HS standout, said he thinks it's possible the Gamecocks will step forward with an offer while he's on campus this weekend. If USC does offer, he told me without hesitation that he would commit on the spot and end the process.
The 5-7, 175 pounder has drawn some comparisons to the mold of player Florida utilized in their spread attack last year with Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey. I don't believe Jones has quite the world class speed of those two, but he has been timed on multiple occasions running a sub 4.4 second forty yard dash. Jones said of himself: "I think I'm a running back playing wide receiver. I've played running back all my life, I just can catch... What people tell me is the first person never tackles me. The first defender never tackles me when I touch the ball. I think I'm elusive, and I think if I'm in the right offense and somebody gives me the opportunity to touch the ball and make plays, that's where I'm the best."
South Carolina is officially recruiting Jones as an athlete on offense, but he said Spurrier Jr. has talked mostly about using him at slot receiver with the potential to see some touches out of the backfield as well. He could also be a return specialist.
Jones is originally from St. Petersburg, FL but he moved to Myrtle Beach to live with his grandma when he was young after his mom and dad passed away. He said that was a tough situation at first but that it ended up working out well for him.
He has a positive impression of the Gamecock football program, and he went out of his way to tell me that he has always liked South Carolina more than Clemson. He really likes the USC coaches, he likes how the Carolina offense features wide receivers, and he has taken notice of how the Gamecocks put players in the NFL.
USF, TCU, and Marshall are also showing interest in Jones at this point. He is expected to get much more attention once schools see him in action this fall in the JUCO ranks, but if things fall into place the Gamecocks could already have him locked up by then. Jones is scheduled to graduate in December and he will have three years to play three eligibility-wise.
OTHER RECRUITING NOTES
According to Scout.com's Mike Bakas, South Carolina recently extended an offer to Gainesville (FL) cornerback Devont'a Davis. The 6-2, 180 pounder is a big cornerback prospect who can run and carries a certain swagger on the football field. USC joins Louisville, Arkansas, and UCF as the schools who have offered Davis. The Gamecock defense has caught Davis' attention, as he described Carolina's D as "hard nosed" in the interview with Bakas.
Bakas is also reporting that USC just extended an offer to Lincoln (Tallahassee, FL) offensive lineman Cody Gibson. The 6-6, 255 pound trenchman has quick feet and long arms, and the Gamecocks like him as an offensive tackle. USC joins Illinois, Indiana, Marshall, and East Carolina as the schools that have offered the emerging Sunshine State prospect. Of USC, Gibson said: "I think they are a powerful SEC program. Coach Spurrier is a great coach."
BASKETBALL RECRUITING NOTES
GamecockAnthem.com basketball recruiting analyst Joshua Capers will be at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions this weekend catching up with a couple of recruits. After talking to Florida Rams coach Matt Ramker, we were informed that South Carolina's own Damien Leonard (J.L. Mann) will be running with the team. Leonard is one of the top shooting guards in the country in the 2011 class and holds an offer from the Gamecocks.
Also running with Rams will be a big-time recruit that coach Darrin Horn has been in contact with recently, Fab Melo. Melo is a 7-footer in the class of 2010 and recently moved into the 5-star range with Scout's latest updated rankings.
According to Ramker, the Rams will also bring a pair of players that South Carolina is in the mix with. Marvin Baynham is a power forward out of Miami, FL, and Khyle Marshall is a small forward also out of the Sunshine State.
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