Recruiting Round-Up: 2011 RB Prospects

GamecockAnthem.com takes an in-depth look at some of the top running back prospects the Gamecocks are in on for the class of 2011. After signing what many to believe to be the top back in the country in last year's class, the Gamecocks have the opportunity to add to the stable in 2011. Look inside for the breakdown in this premium article from GamecockAnthem.com.

After signing what many people believed to be the top running back of the 2010 class in SC native Marcus Lattimore, the Gamecock coaching staff isn't resting on it's laurels, but is hot on the trail of another talented group of RB prospects for the 2011 class.

The Gamecocks look poised to take two commitments from among their RB targets during this recruiting cycle. At this point in time, it appears that the staff is looking to take one speed back (to bolster the playmaking ability of the backfield), and one power back (to offset the loss of Brian Maddox who is a senior this year). As always, this intent/strategy could always change, especially with the type of talent the Gamecocks are again pursuing at the RB position, and the knowledge that the coaching staff is never going to turn away a blue chip prospect if they would want to sign with the Gamecocks.

In terms of talent, the Gamecocks are in the mix with some of the top RB prospects in the Southeast and in some instances the entire country. Below is a look at some of the top targets the Gamecocks are pursuing at this time who could ultimately be Gamecocks when the ink is all dried come signing day in February 2011.

Note: Prospects are listed in order of their Scout.Com position ranking. These rankings do not necessarily reflect the order these prospects appear on the Gamecocks recruiting board at the running back position.

Recruiting Round-Up: 2011 RB Prospects
Shon Carson – No. 21 RB – 5-9/195/4.4 - Lake City (SC)
Carson is a prospect the Gamecocks have been strong with for some time now. Carson is a two-sport athlete (Football / Baseball) who is a high level prospect in both sports. Carson has visited South Carolina multiple times and has developed a good relationship with both the baseball and football coaching staffs respectively. Both staffs are fine with Carson pursuing a dual sport role if he were to sign with the Gamecocks come February. As has been noted before with Carson, it will be interesting to see where he is drafted by MLB coming out of high school. Obviously the higher Carson is drafted, and most importantly by what teams (those willing to offer more money) the more difficult the decision becomes for him when choosing between college and starting a professional career.

Carson has just dominated on the football field during his career at Lake City High School. Carson is shooting for his fourth 1,000 yard season as he has rushed for more than a 1,000 yards in his first three seasons to date, even breaking the 2,000 yard threshold last year. Carson displays a good mix of power and speed with his game. Carson clocked a 4.37 40-yard dash earlier this year at an Under Armour football combine.

Scout Player Biography:

• Shon Carson finished his junior season with 2,146 yards rushing and 33 touchdowns. He says he can bench 315-pounds, squat 515 and claims a 35-inch vertical jump.
• 2008: Carson had an outstanding sophomore season where he rushed for 1,636 yards on 186 carries (8.8 yards per carry) and 19 touchdowns.
• 2007: nearly reached the 1300-yard mark. Carson is also a standout on the baseball diamond for LCHS.
• Carson plans to major in sports management and reports a 3.6 core GPA and is taking the SAT on June 5.
Carson: "I have good speed and power. I have great vision too. I'm like Percy Harvin…I can play anywhere. I want to improve my blocking."

Where The Gamecocks Stand:

The Gamecocks have positioned themselves nicely with Carson, and have a great story to tell in regards to football and baseball (especially after winning the 2010 CWS). Although Carson claims it is too early for him to name any favorites, the Gamecocks have to be considered one of the front runners for Carson's signature at this point.

Video Highlights:

Highlights VS Airport 11/13/09:
Junior Video - 2009:
RB Clips - Spring Practice '09:
Highlight Video 4 - So. Year:
Highlight Video 3 - So. Year:
Highlight Video 2 - So. Year:
Highlight Video 1 - So. Year:
Mike Blakely – No. 29 RB – 5-9 / 192 lbs / 4.45 - Bradenton (Fla.)
Blakely is one of the top running back prospects in the state of Florida this year. Blakely didn't burst onto the scene by making his mark against inferior competition, rather Blakely plays in Florida's talent rich 5A football classification. In fact last season Blakely was named first team all state running back for Florida's 5A classification. Blakely has a great mix of straight-line speed, agility, and quick feet.

Blakely had favored the Clemson Tigers earlier in the year until the Tigers received commitments from two other Florida RB's. Since then, Blakely has pretty much focused on schools in the SEC. Blakely just told Gamecock Anthem that his top six schools at this time are (Florida, Auburn, South Carolina, Southern Cal, Ole Miss, and Tennessee).

Blakely also just completed an unofficial visit to the South Carolina campus while accompanying his longtime friend and new Gamecock freshman WR Ace Sanders as he moved into his new dorm over the weekend.

It should be mentioned that Blakely has a great relationship with his recruiter G.A. Mangus. Mangus has developed a close relationship with the Manatee star, and has positioned the Gamecocks squarely in the mix for this blue chip prospect. Blakely is the type of prospect the Gamecocks would certainly despite any numbers issues if Blakely wanted to be a Gamecock.

Scout Player Evaluation:

"Blakely has really developed over the years, he was a break your ankles type as a freshmen and now is all of 5'9, 185. He still has excellent quickness and acceleration, but has lost some of the deep speed. He was very durable as a junior carrying the load all the way to the state title game. He can catch the ball out of the backfield and is a smart, heady blocker, particularly against pass rushers." - Geoff Vogt, Florida Recruiting Analyst

Scout Player Biography:

• Mike Blakely finished his junior season with 1,400 yards rushing, 327 yards receiving and 227 yards on punt and kick returns. He had a total of 23 touchdowns. First Team All State RB for 5A classification. First Team All Area RB by Bradenton Herald. He says he can bench 280-pounds and squat 405.
• Blakely plans on majoring in business or communications. He reports a 3.6 core GPA and took the ACT in May, but says he's still waiting for the results.
• Blakely: "I have great vision and power. I can cut back and have great footwork. I'm really smart on the field. I have great quickness and speed too. "I'm versatile and can catch the ball. I like to mix it up." "I need to work on my conditioning. I want to get more carries and need to be able to go 100-percent in all four quarters."

Where The Gamecocks Stand:

The Gamecocks have quietly made their way into Blakely's top six schools. In fact, Blakely recently told us here at Gamecock Anthem that the Gamecocks were one of three schools in his top six that were really standing out above the rest. The schools he named: Auburn, Florida, and South Carolina. At this point in time, I would think the Gamecocks probably trail just slightly behind Auburn and Florida. Blakely has listed Auburn as his top school in the past but has since backed off those statements of Auburn being the clear leader for his services. In regards to Florida, it will be interesting to see just how hard they push for Blakely. Blakely will be attending Florida's Friday Night Lights event coming up here shortly, and it will be interesting to see what Blakely says and Florida does in regards to his recruitment after that event. Blakely says that he is going to take all of his official visits, but did say if he finds the school that is right for him that he would not hesitate to commit to that school.

The key for South Carolina will be to get Blakely back on campus for an official visit (which I think at this point is likely), and to have a good year on the football field this fall. It is important here, not to underestimate the friendship that Blakely and new Gamecock WR Ace Sanders have. It is strong and could be of great benefit to the Gamecocks as Blakely's recruitment plays out. The longer the Gamecocks stay in the game with Blakely the better their chances will be. South Carolina has slowly climbed into the lead group over the past few months and has certainly given themselves a punchers chance at landing the talented 4-star running back.

Video Highlights

#7 RB Mike Blakely - 2009 State Championship:
#7 RB Junior Video - 2009 - Part III:
#7 RB Junior Video - 2009 - Part II:
#7 RB Junior Video - 2009 - Part I:
Freshman Video:
Andrew Buie – No. 47 RB – 5-10 / 190 lbs / 4.45 - Jacksonville (Fla.)
Coach Steve Spurrier Jr. has done an excellent job in the recruitment of Buie. Spurrier Jr. identified Buie very early on as a prospect the Gamecocks were interested in pursuing at the running back position. Buie was recently on campus at South Carolina with his teammate Ahmad Christian where he got a chance to tour the new Dodie Academic facility, the stadium, the new players lounge, the locker room, and dorms. Buie also had a chance to meet with his position coach, Coach Jay Graham, who showed the Jacksonville prospect around campus.

Buie is not the largest back out there, but his is surprisingly muscular and strong for his size. Buie has great speed, and great hands out of the backfield, and is at his best when in open space where he is very dangerous. Buie has the toughness to run in the middle with the big boys from time to time, but he is going to make his living at the next level by getting on the edge where he definitely has the speed to turn the corner and make big plays. Buie has mentioned that the Gamecocks have been recruiting him very hard, and at times the hardest of all the schools pursuing him. However, the talented back is becoming a more prized prospect with each passing day and as such the battle for his services has gotten more intense.

Scout Player Biography:

• 2009: Ran for 1,901 yards and 22 TDs on his way to First Team All State honors for the 1A classification.

Where the Gamecocks Stand:

Buie has said that in the near future (in the next month or so) he plans to trim his list of schools down to a top 5. At this time the Gamecocks look to be in good shape to make such a cut.

As far as the competition goes for Buie's services, the teams to watch out for mostly come from the SEC: Auburn, Tennessee and Ole Miss. Another team to watch out for at this point just in case they offer is Florida State. Buie grew up a fan of the Seminoles and it is undetermined how an offer from FSU would affect him at this point considering the late offer and a recent coaching change.

As has been mentioned before, the key with Buie will be to get him on campus again for an official visit and to put a good product on the field this fall.

Video Highlights:

#3 Andrew Buie - '09 Sun Sports State Finals:
Andrew Buie - Sophomore 2:
Andrew Buie - Sophomore 1:
Romar Morris – No. 56 RB – 5-10/171/4.32 - Salisbury (N.C.)
Morris is probably one of the fastest and most explosive playmakers the Gamecocks are after in this recruiting cycle. Morris possesses elite speed and also has good hands out of the backfield. In fact his hands are so good that teams like Clemson have offered Morris with the intent to play him at the slot receiver position. Morris had been scheduled to accompany his teammate Darrien Rankin (a safety prospect whom the Gamecocks have not at this time) on a visit to Columbia last month but was unable to make the trip.

Despite not having visited the South Carolina campus, the Gamecocks found themselves in Morris's top five schools which he recently named: North Carolina, Clemson, South Carolina, GT, and Tennessee. Morris's athletic ability makes him the type of prospect the Gamecocks might take regardless of numbers.

Where The Gamecocks Stand:

At this point you would have to consider the Gamecocks a long shot in securing the services of Morris. Until the Gamecocks are able to get the elite athlete on campus for a visit it will be hard to land him when all is said and done. It does say something that Morris listed the Gamecocks in his top five without ever stepping foot on campus though.

At this point, I would say it's likely that North Carolina and Clemson are out front for Morris at this point. North Carolina has also offered his friend and teammate Darrien Rankin (S) as well. If the Gamecocks can get Morris of campus before he decides to commit to another school, then the Gamecocks will greatly improve their chances. It would also help to get Morris down to for and official visit during the season to see and to experience the big-time atmosphere SEC football has to offer. The name of the game with Morris is patience and persistence. You can bet Coach Jay Graham will continue to work hard to lure the NC speedster to Columbia.

Video Highlights:

Highlight Video 1 - Jr. Year #8 RB/WR:
Brandon Wilds – No. 85 RB – 6-1/218/4.5 - Blythewood (S.C.)
Brandon Wilds is a big power running back prospect the Gamecocks offered back in February. Wilds plays football right in the Gamecock's backyard at Blythewood High School. South Carolina identified Wilds as a prospect that met there needs/wants for a big power back in the 2011 recruiting cycle. Wilds certainly isn't going to run away from many defenders at the college level, but that is not his game. Wilds is a bruiser who has decent speed for a man his size and is surprisingly light on his feet for a prospect that is pushing 220lbs.

Coach Brad Lawing is the main recruiter for Wilds, but rest assured the Jay Graham is also closely involved in the recruitment of Wilds as well. Wilds is definitely a candidate for a late summer commitment because of his intent to graduate from high school early and enroll at his school of choice in January. The Gamecocks are basically pitching the idea to Wilds that they want him to come and replace Brian Maddox and be the player that fills that "big back" role on the team.

Scout Player Biography:

• 2009: Ran for over 1500 yards and scored 20 rushing touchdowns for the Bengals in '09.

Where The Gamecocks Stand:

The Gamecocks are definitely in the lead group to land Wilds. Wilds has said his top three schools at the moment are South Carolina, Maryland, and Illinois. Wilds has visited South Carolina and Maryland (Wilds old teammate Justin Anderson attends Maryland) and wants to visit Illinois sometime this summer. In the end I think the Gamecocks look good to land Wilds based on their proximity to home and family and playing in the SEC.

Video Highlights:

Soph. Year #22 RB - Highlight Video 1:
Jr. Year #22 RB - Highlight Video 2:

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