A big emphasis in this recruiting cycle for the South Carolina Gamecocks, is addressing their needs along the defensive line of scrimmage.
To compete day in and day out in a conference like the SEC, a team has to have, and sustain quality depth in the trenches.
In that pursuit, one prospect that has intrigued the Gamecocks is 6-foot-4, 240 pound Lorenzo Mauldin from Maynard Jackson H.S. in Atlanta, Mauldin also possesses a 27.5-inch vertical and a respectable 4.7-second forty-yard dash.
With his obvious physical gifts, the Gamecocks aren't the only SEC school interested in the talented peach state prospect.
The Kentucky Wildcats have thrown their hat in the ring for Mauldin's services as well.
"Right now the four schools I'm interested in are Kentucky, South Carolina, Troy, and Marshall" says Mauldin. "All those schools have given me full ride scholarships as either a defensive end or as a stand up linebacker."
But of those scholarship offers, Mauldin says the two SEC schools have him thinking a little bit more than the others.
"Out of my four offers, Kentucky and South Carolina are at the top", says Mauldin. "And between those two, my interest in South Carolina right now is right behind Kentucky."
When Mauldin was asked if that increased interest meant that Kentucky was his current leader he replied, "At this time it's Kentucky. Their scholarship offer stands out the most to me at this time because they are offering immediate playing time", says Mauldin. "But that's just at this time."
Although Kentucky is on top at the moment just slightly, Mauldin says his favorite coach is employed by a school other than the Wildcats.
"Coach Ward of South Carolina is my favorite recruiter", says Mauldin. "It would definitely be Coach Ward."
Mauldin says he remembers how his relationship with Coach Ward all began.
"Coach Ward came to my school and was telling me about their camps and everything", Mauldin described. "He saw my highlight tape and he liked it. So he showed it to Coach Spurrier and he liked it. So they decided to offer me a full ride scholarship."
Mauldin says South Carolina's recruitment of him has been steady since that first meeting with Coach Ward. "South Carolina's interest in me is very high", says Mauldin. "They continuously send me postcards and hand written notes to keep South Carolina on my mind."
The Gamecocks efforts haven't gone unnoticed either, and Mauldin has started to notice and like specific things about South Carolina. "I pretty much like South Carolina because of their academics and their overall sports program", says Mauldin.
In fact, South Carolina has made such an impression on the Atlanta native that Mauldin says, "South Carolina is the only school that I have really been keeping in touch with lately."
Mauldin's recent surge in interest in the Gamecocks could even grow larger as a scheduled visit to Columbia is on tap in the near future. "I'm going to visit South Carolina for their Showcase Camp at the end of this month", says Mauldin.
When asked if that visit could knock Kentucky from its perch atop his list of schools Mauldin said, "Yes, I actually think I'm going to like South Carolina over Kentucky but I won't know for sure until I visit South Carolina for their Showcase." Mauldin says, "If it is like I think it's going to be, then South Carolina will definitely be on top."
Another factor in Mauldin's recruitment that could favor the Gamecocks coming off a visit to Columbia, is Mauldin's timeframe for a decision. "My decision, my commitment is going to be no later than the end of August or the first part of September", says Mauldin.
As Mauldin approaches his last high school football season, he says he is working on a couple of things. "I'm working on getting faster and stronger, and I'm just trying to learn as much as I can", shared Mauldin.
Mauldin's head football coach, Coach Russell Thomas, talked about Mauldin's potential if he learns to push and apply himself. "Like most kids his age, he just needs to learn how to focus and improve his self-discipline on and off the field to reach his full potential as an athlete and as a man", says Thomas. "Once he does that, the kid is has got the potential to be big-time."
Coach Thomas says he has had a chance to get to know Mauldin really well as he pointed out, "Lorenzo has been playing varsity football for us since he was in the 10th grade."
Coach Thomas talked proudly of his player saying, "Lorenzo is a big kid with a ton of upside."
When asked from his point of view as head coach to describe Mauldin's biggest strength Thomas quickly replied, "His strength is in his potential, and the fact that he is just physically gifted", Thomas says. "He's just a big kid right now, but when one of these schools takes him and turns him into a man through their strength and conditioning program, he's going to be scary. He's going to be real scary."
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