The Palmetto state is often times underrated as a football hotbed, but with two BCS schools in the state in South Carolina and Clemson and one of the best Division I-AA programs in Furman, South Carolina has more than enough prospects for the schools to fight over.
Six prospects from South Carolina appeared in our ESPN 150 in 2006, and five prospects currently occupy a spot in the 2007 ESPN 150. Last year, it would be safe to say that Clemson got the better of South Carolina on the recruiting trail, but Steve Spurrier is making some serious headway despite losing out on ESPN 150 cornerback Gary Gray (Columbia, S.C./Richland Northeast) to Notre Dame last month.
On 2006 opening day NFL rosters, 51 players are represented from South Carolina, including Atlanta Falcons Pro Bowler John Abraham (Timmonsville, S.C./Lamar) and now infamous Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (Hartsville, S.C.).
Brian Maddox, Running back
T.L. Hanna (Anderson, S.C.)
Verbal: South Carolina
I believe Gamecocks fans are going to look back five years from now and realize that Maddox was one of the players that helped get South Carolina over the hump. The bruising combination of speed, size, power and agility he has will give South Carolina what Fred Taylor gave Florida. Whether fans of Steve Spurrier realize it or not, the fun n' gun has always featured an excellent running game, despite the notion that the ball is in the air all the time.
Maddox had a goal coming into the season of rushing for 2,600 yards, receiving for 500 yards and scoring 25-30 touchdowns. So far this year, he has rushed for over 200 yards in a game three times and ran for 131 on 30 carries this past week against in-state rival Richland Northeast. He is nearly halfway to achieving those goals with six games still remaining.
Maddox believe it or not grew up a Clemson fan. He wants to major in mechanical engineering at South Carolina. There is not a better back in this class when it comes to getting yards after contact.
Player under the radar
Stanley Hunter, Outside linebacker
Byrnes (Duncan, S.C.)
While Hunter may lack ideal bulk, what we have seen on film and what I saw in person leads me to believe this kid's speed and motor will more than compensate at the next level while his frame catches up with his athleticism.
He has a tremendous nose for the ball and is a sideline-to-sideline player. He is the type of player who is at his best on the move when he can play in space, and he has some skills as a pass rusher as well.
When projecting Hunter at the next level, he may be a strong safety type or a nickel linebacker. He gets overshadowed by teammate Willy Korn, but Hunter has very nice upside.
On the trail
Clemson is really making strides in recruiting, not just in-state, but throughout the southeast. Freshman running back C.J. Spiller has obviously been a huge pick-up for them out of Florida, and in the state of South Carolina, the Tigers now have eight verbal commitments from the top 25 players we have evaluated in the state.
Willy Korn (Duncan, S.C./Byrnes) is a nice fit for the Tigers offense and should compete right away. OLB Scotty Cooper (Lake City, S.C./Lake City) is much like Hunter in that he isn't very big but is more of a safety/linebacker hybrid with great speed.
South Carolina has a lot of ground to make up, and with Spurrier at the helm, they will begin to make some headway soon. Along with Maddox, OT Quinton Richardson (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) is a nice commitment.
Tom Luginbill is the national director of recruiting for Scouts Inc. Tom is a college football and recruiting studio analyst for ESPNU.