Shrine Bowl practice news and notes

by - Senior Writer -

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Temperatures were a bit warmer in Spartanburg on Wednesday as both teams – the North Carolina and South Carolina squads – went through two practices on the fields behind Spartanburg High School in preparation for Saturday’s Shrine Bowl Game.

The biggest news of the afternoon centered on injuries as both Jadeveon Clowney and Pat Martin left the afternoon practice with injuries. Clowney, the No. 1 prospect in the nation and the defensive end out of South Pointe High School, is believed to have a shoulder stinger, an injury he suffered during the state championship game. Martin’s injury wasn’t believed to be serious. South Carolina head coach Mickey Moss said he believes Clowney will play Saturday.

“He wants to play and we’re monitoring him very closely,” Moss said. “Hopefully tomorrow he’ll get cleared and be ready to play.”

*During Tuesday’s practice, the South Carolina team ran several versions of the Wildcat formation, but the most interesting alignment had Mauldin linebacker Carson Smith and Marlboro County linebacker Lateek Townsend lined up in the backfield as blockers for Clowney, who ran the ball on occasion at South Pointe. It would be interesting to see that run during Saturday’s game. Townsend also ran the ball out of the formation.

*As for Clowney, the big defensive end said this week at practice that he plans on taking an official visit to Clemson on January 21st. The Tigers weren’t really thought to be a player in the Clowney sweepstakes, but Clowney told TigerNet Wednesday morning that he likes defensive ends coach Chris Rumph, and will take the visit because of their relationship. Rumph can now claim, of course, that he coached the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, the Hendricks Award winner and Nagurski Award winner in Da’Quan Bowers this season.

*Myrtle Beach quarterback Everett Golson, a Notre Dame commit, has looked the better of the two South Carolina quarterbacks. Northwestern’s Justin Worley, a Tennessee commitment, has looked decent, but Golson has looked like the better passer by far.

*Former Clemson commit Brandon Ellerbe, who has committed to North Carolina, has looked the best of the North Carolina defensive backs this week. He has great lateral movement, quick hips and explodes to the ball. He also looks strong enough (6-1, 210) to be a force against the run. The good news for Clemson is that Ellerbe, who wears a Clemson-style helmet for Anson (Wadesboro, N.C.) High, will be in Clemson for a visit on January 14th.  Ellerbe said he also plans to visit N.C. State and North Carolina, and possibly West Virginia and Georgia Tech. Clemson recruiter Dan Brooks has already had an in-home visit with Ellerbe. Ellerbe had 45 tackles and three interceptions this season. He also rushed for 1031 yards.

*Lateek Townsend (6-3 207) told TigerNet that he put recruiting on hold this week. He has taken official visits to USC and Southern Cal, and he plans on visiting Clemson and LSU in January. "I'm really going to have things narrowed down by the end of this month," Townsend said. “Right now, everyone is pretty even, and I just want to sit down and go to the place that’s right for me. I also want to go somewhere where I can help out early. But right now, there are no favorites, and I’m just enjoying being around all of these great players. Maybe some of them can be my teammates someday.” Townsend said he could announce at the U.S. Army Game or the decision might not come until Signing Day.

*Butler (Matthews, N.C.) ATH Kris Frost said on Wednesday that he has narrowed his choices down to three – Michigan, Auburn and LSU. It’s a shame he doesn’t have Clemson in that group, because Frost has really stood out among the defensive players from North Carolina. The kid can flat out play. Also, Jack Britt defensive tackle Devonte Brown, a Clemson target who has committed to North Carolina, is another player that jumps out at you when you watch practice. He looks like he can play on a collegiate defensive line right now. His athleticism is startling considering his big (6-4, 260) body.

*Manning defensive tackle Phillip Dukes has looked the part of the best defensive lineman in the state. He is big (6-3, 295) and fast and has tons of potential. He said on Wednesday that he has set all five of his official visits – Clemson, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama and Georgia. Clemson recruiter Chris Rumph has already had an in in-home visit with Dukes. He had 70 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three blocked field goals and a blocked punt this past season.

*What if I told you that the best linebacker in the state – statistically and in the eyes of many of the coaches on hand at practice this week – would come to Clemson in a heartbeat? That happens to be the case for Mauldin’s Carson Smith, who led the state of South Carolina with 173 tackles this season and finished with 489 for his career. Smith (6-2, 220) was a Top 10 finalist for the Wendy’s Heisman in the state, and his coach at Mauldin – former Furman linebacker Kelly Smith – said Smith is one of the smartest players he has ever coached. One Spartanburg coach on hand on Wednesday said he was glad Smith was leaving Mauldin because they never could find a way to block him. The biggest hurdle Smith has is his speed – he runs a 4.6 40-yard dash. However, his shuttle time in the combine this week and at different scouting camps has set records, and he tied Marcus Lattimore at the state strength meet last season. At this point, Smith has offers from Harvard, The Citadel and other schools, but he has spoken with Clemson recruiter Andre Powell. If Clemson has some of their linebacker targets fall through, Smith would be a nice option.

*Clemson commitment and Wren OL Shaq Anthony has been busy recruiting this week. He said on Wednesday that he has enjoyed his time with his South Carolina teammates, and has enjoyed getting to know some of his future Clemson teammates better. However, he also said that he has been in the ear of several undecided prospects, telling them that Clemson is the place to be.

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