July 29, 2015

#STRecruiting: USC QB commitment McIlwain could be looking at big baseball dollars next summer

Brandon McIlwain

Brandon McIlwain

Other colleges need not bother USC quarterback commitment Brandon McIlwain of Newtown, PA.  Since picking the Gamecocks on New Year’s Eve over Penn State, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Duke, Florida and Cal, he has been 100% locked on playing college football for Steve Spurrier and company.  So, a decommitment is something Gamecock fans don’t have to worry about.

But McIlwain also is a special baseball talent who plays outfield, third base and is a righthanded pitcher. PerfectGame.com described McIlwain as ‘just an incredible athlete. Huge power potential, very fast. Hard game contact at PG National.”

McIlwain was at USC’s camp Saturday but Sunday he will be back on the diamond in Tampa for a national tournament.  His plan has not changed at this point and that is to enroll at USC in January and compete for playing time at quarterback in 2016.  He also plans to join the baseball team that spring.  But McIlwain did say he is hearing some things from baseball scouts that may give him something to ponder.

“It’s been a really good summer, the first summer that a lot of baseball opportunities have popped up and some scouts have told me that the top two rounds are a possibility,” McIlwain said.  “But it’s not something of real interest to me.”

But will that interest change if he is a top two round pick and the big dollars are floated his way?  According to Baseball America’s 2015 draft database, OF Eric Jenkins of N0rth Carolina, the second round pick of the Rangers, signed for two million dollars, the highest bonus of the second round.  The lowest signing bonus for a second round pick was $650,000.

“It’s an opportunity I definitely have to look at,” McIlwain said.  “I’m keeping all my options open.  But the opportunity to come to South Carolina and get a degree and play football and baseball here is worth a lot to me, too. I’m pretty confident that I’ll be here playing at South Carolina in the next few years.  I’m not worried about the baseball thing coming in and changing anything.  I’ll be here.”

McIlwain said he’s had an excellent summer in football as well.  He competed in the Elite 11 event in Oregon earlier this month and has worked out a lot with his own high school team in preparation for the season.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities to throw and get a lot better so it should be a really, really exciting season,” he said.  “I think I’ve gotten better in all aspects.  I had the chance to stay with my quarterback coach for ten days and train. And going to the Elite 11, I’ve learned so much and gotten better in all aspects of my game.”

Last season McIlwain passed for 2100 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushed for 1100 yards and 20 touchdowns.


#STRecruiting: USC moves back on top with Marlon Character after Saturday

Marlon Character

Marlon Character

DB Marlon Character of Atlanta visited USC Saturday and spent a lot of time with recruiter Lorenzo Ward and new defensive coordinator and second coach Jon Hoke.  As a result of what he heard and saw, Character now has the Gamecocks back as his leader ahead of Auburn.  He will choose one of those schools and will do so within the next few days.  He said he is not taking any more visits.

“I’m talking about it right now and doing some more thinking about it,” Character said as he was leaving USC Saturday afternoon.  “The visit went really well.  I was with Coach Ward most of the day.  We toured the campus.  I talked to Coach Hoke.  I enjoyed myself and learned some things about them.”

One of those things was the early playing opportunities Hoke and Ward laid out for him.

“I will be able to play five positions and there’s more opportunity to get on the field and showcase my talent,” Character said.  “Coach Ward is not afraid to play freshmen at corner.  I would be one of the biggest ones he has. Most schools are recruiting me to play safety.  Auburn is recruiting me as a safety and I prefer corner.”

Character said he’s on a day to day basis at this point with his decision announcement which he’ll ultimately make public via Twitter.

“I’m going to thing about it a little bit more and make my decision before the summer is up.  It might be tomorrow or it might be the next day.  Or a couple of days.”

Character said he will be talking to coaches from both schools as he works on his final decision.


#STRecruiting: Gamecocks add Blue to the Garnet & Black 2016 class

PJ Blue

PJ Blue

USC’s third commitment for the weekend rolled in Saturday afternoon in LB PJ Blue (6-2 200) of Montgomery, AL. Blue follows DB Chris Smith and OL Akeem Cooperwood in committing to the Gamecocks.  He did not attend Friday’s pool party but was on and for Saturday’s camp for his first visit to the school.

Blue chose the Gamecocks over Alabama and Ole Miss.  He also held offers from Clemson, Auburn, Louisville, Nebraska, Missouri and others.  He had been favoring the Gamecocks since earlier this month as they separated themselves from Ole Miss.

“They have me as a top priority and and they want me to play safety which is my preferred position, so I feel like I could possibly come in and fill a big need for them,” Blue said.  “Coach Botkin told me he thinks I’m a really good athlete and I could play linebacker or safety.”

Blue gives the Gamecocks 11 new commitments for the 2016 class and 12 total including 2015 holdover DB Octavis Johnson.

#STRecruiting: JUCO OL Akeem Cooperwood commits to USC Saturday

Akeem Cooperwood

Akeem Cooperwood

OL Akeem Cooperwood (6-7 325) of Georgia Military JC became USC’s second commitment of the weekend Saturday afternoon when he confirmed his pledge to the Gamecocks.  His commitment follows that of DB Chris Smith of South Pointe Friday afternoon.

Cooperwood is a native of Knoxville, TN.  USC was his first major offer.  He also has offers from East Carolina, Ohio and UT Chattanooga and he  drew recruiting interest from Alabama, Florida State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Louisville and Georgia.

“I had a great time here in Columbia,” he said Saturday afternoon  “I loved the city, the coaches, the players.   It felt like it was home to me already.”

Georgia Military coach Bert Williams has sent a number of players to the USC program and feels Cooperwood will be another one who will make an impact.

“He’s a good worker,” Williams said.  “He’s a long kid with good size.  He’s fluid and can move his feet.  He has good punch.  He’s going to be a darn good one.”

Cooperwood will have three years to play two with the Gamecocks.  He gives USC 11 for their 2016 reporting class.

USC also has commitments at Georgia Military from 2016 DE Kalan Ritchie and 2017 OL Dennis Daley.

#STRecruiting Bullets: USC’s pool party; Isaiah Wilson top 10; Clemson lands lefty

Pete Leota

Pete Leota

USC’s first annual pool bash seemed to be a big success with the prospects we reached.  While only one of them actually jumped into the (commitment) pool on Friday, DB Chris Smith, the Gamecocks seem to help themselves with several others and are in position to added to their 2016 class in the days and weeks ahead.  Here’s a recap of what the prospects had to say: [Read more…]