#STRecruiting: Stokes is a mix of speed and smarts

CJ Stokes

2022 RB CJ Stokes of Hammond School in Columbia is the complete package for a college prospect. A back with 4.4 speed and a student with a GPA high enough to attract the attention of Ivy League schools, Stokes is considered one of the top prospects in South Carolina’s junior class after a sophomore season of 1300 yards and 18 touchdowns. USC and Minnesota have offered, he’s hearing from North Carolina, Duke, East Carolina, Wake Forest, Harvard, Yale and Columbia.

“Minnesota said I have a rare blend of speed, power and balance that they like a lot,” Stokes.  “The Gamecocks just love my game overall.  They’ve been recruiting me for over a year now.  I ran a 4.4 at their camp, so they just love my speed and what I can bring to the table.”

USC head coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo get the chance to see Stokes in action more than other coaches because they have sons who play for Hammond. Stokes said Muschamp is making the most of those opportunities.

“I talk to Coach Muschamp a lot,” Stokes said.  “He’s always around because his son is one of the quarterbacks on the team so I get to talk to him a lot.  We talk just about every day.  He told me I’ve just got to stay on track.  Where I’m at right now, I’m at a good spot.  I’ve just got to keep getting better, keep getting faster and make sure if I can weight that I keep my speed.”

Stokes lives 20 minutes from the USC campus so the Gamecocks have that inherent advantage of location. And that’s a plus for them, but Stokes said that’s not an absolute deciding factor him.

“It’s a factor definitely, but I’m not scared of travel,” Stokes said.  “I’m definitely going to take  a visit to to any school that has interest in me.  Like Minnesota, I’m definitely going to go out there and see what that’s like.  But, it’s definitely a big factor, how close they are, but it’s not the biggest.”

Stokes has visited USC for games and practices several times. He’s also been to Virginia Tech for a game, and he was scheduled for unofficial visits to North Carolina and Duke before the Covid-19 dead period. And with the NCAA extending the dead period thru the end of the year, Stokes wants to take as many visits as he can in 2021 before a decision.

“It’s not a four year decision for me.  It’s more about what school can give me the best opportunity after football to be successful in life,” Stokes said.  “Academics  matter to me a lot.  That’s going to be a big factor.  I’m not just going to go to a school because of football.”

As for now, Stokes is eying another SCISA state championship with the Skyhawks, and becoming a more complete running back by improving his pass catching and blocking skills.

“I’ve been working on that a lot, lining up and motioning out of the slot, or just lining up out of the slot,” Stokes said.  “My catching has improved tremendously.  And picking up blocks, I’ve been working on that.  I can do better on that, and I will.  I’ve just got to keep working on it.  But my catching and my ability to line up in the slot and run routes has improved.”

Stokes is rated a three-star in the 247Sports Composite. He’s ranked nationally at #61 among running backs, and he’s the #12 ranked prospect in the state for 2022.

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