New USC running backs coach Montario Hardesty has been scoping out the running back prospects he likes for the 2022 class, and one he’s heating up on is right down the road from the campus. CJ Stokes (5-10 190) is a speedster from Hammond School who was offered by the previous Gamecock staff. Hardesty has followed up and is keeping the recruiting going for the Gamecocks. The two talked earlier this week.
“He said he loves my film. He thinks I’m the best back in South Carolina,” Stokes said. “We are just going to continue building a relationship. But he said he loves my tape and he can’t wait to see me in person. He said I put my foot in the ground and go and have a lot of speed.”
Stokes added that Hardesty has already started to coach him up a bit offering him some advice to improve his overall game.
“He also gave me gave me a few pointers on some stuff I can work on, too,” Stokes said. “He said I can do some yoga to loosen up my hips. He said that’s really the only knock on my game, everything else is there. He said everything is perfect. He said I could use a little bit more mobility in my hips.”
Stokes and Hardesty are in the early stages of relationship building in the recruiting process. The two had not previously talked before Hardesty got to Columbia.
“I think it’s going to be good,” Stokes said. “I haven’t really talked to him before. He’s never recruited me before. We’ve just got to continue to get to know each other. He doesn’t know me. I don’t know him. Hopefully we an build a relationship and get that thing going.”
One coach on the staff Stokes knows very well is tight ends coach Erik Kimrey, his former head coach at Hammond.
“I think he’s going to do great. He did great at Hammond. He’s a great coach,” he said. “I think it’s going to translate to South Carolina. But I try not to let that (history with Kimrey) affect my decision.”
Stokes just picked up offers from Missouri and Yale. He also has Minnesota, Duke, Louisville, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest offers. He said USC, Vanderbilt, Duke, Missouri and Louisville are the ones coming at him with the greatest passion right now.
He had been kind of on the fast-track on a decision, but Stokes said he’s backed it down some since the NCAA Dead Period will extend at least thru May 31st. He’d like to take some visits so he can find that school that checks all the boxes with him.
“A school that already has a good culture, a school that’s building up their program and a school that has a great education,” Stokes said. “Something that I can fall back on if football doesn’t work, I get hurt or I don’t make it to the NFL. I’ve got a degree I can fall back on and still be successful at life.”
Stokes said he wants to major in sports medicine in college.
Last season Stokes eclipsed the thousand yard rushing mark again. His sophomore season he rushed for 1300 yards and 18 touchdowns.