Top 10 South Carolina football prospects

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – High school prospect rankings are kind of the like the old joke about the weather in South Carolina – if you don’t like it, wait a little bit and it will change.

The rankings of the top football juniors in the state seem to change every so often as well, so I thought this would be a good time to take a look at a composite of the Top 25 players in the state. We will do the Top 10 tonight, with updates on what we’ve done already, with Nos. 11-20 and 21-25 coming soon.

The beautiful thing about these rankings, however, is that they will change once some of the summer camps are over, and they will change yet again once the high school season starts.

The good news for Tiger fans is that the Tigers either have commitments or are in the running from many of these top prospects, including eight of the top 10.

1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Pointe: Clowney has the size (6-6, 240), the speed and all the athletic ability in the world, and that’s the reason he is the state’s best player. I got to watch him play twice last year, and he was an absolute beast. I have talked to several high school coaches who say that Clowney is actually a better player, at this stage of his career, than Da’Quan Bowers was, and Bowers was the No. 1 player in the nation his senior year. North Carolina, South Carolina, Clemson and Alabama are all in the mix – along with every other school in the country.

2. Charone Peake, WR, Dorman: If you get a chance to go watch Peake in action this season, then do it. Peake is a big (6-4, 215), physical receiver who also happens to be a winner, leading the Cavaliers to the Class 4A, Division state championship last season, when he caught 52 passes for 881 yards and nine touchdowns. Dorman coach David Gutshall calls Peake one of the best players he has ever coached, and the Tigers are in great shape with Peake, and early indications show a Clemson lean. But Peake could also follow in A.J. Green’s footsteps and head to Georgia, where he has visited several times, or to Florida.

3. Brandon Shell, OT, Goose Creek: The 6-foot-7, 290-pound Shell is very athletic and will only get better as he continues to improve his technique. Shell is the nephew of former Oakland Raiders head coach Art Shell, and is coached by former Clemson coach Chuck Reedy. Clemson coaches have seen Shell twice this week, and the Tigers look good early in vying for Shell’s services. Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and South Carolina all are in the mix right now, but don’t expect a lot of fanfare – a la Marcus Lattimore - when Shell finally decides. This quiet kid will probably just call some lucky college coach and announce his intention to play for him.

4. Phillip Dukes, DT, Manning: Dukes is another big, physical player (6-3, 295) who will just get better and better, and the early word is that this is going to be a state battle – Tigers and Gamecocks. Dukes loves the Clemson coaches [he is being recruited by Chris Rumph] and the Tigers were the early leaders, but the Gamecocks have been coming on strong. Dukes also averaged 17 points and nine rebounds for the Manning basketball team this season, which is a testament to his athletic ability. If some school could get Clowney AND Dukes…WOW.

5. Shon Carson, RB, Lake City: Carson has his pick of sports – either football or baseball. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound Carson hit .463 this season with 11 homers and 31 RBI in 27 games, and his football availability may depend on how high he goes in the major league draft. Clemson, South Carolina and North Carolina have been rumored to be his top three, but Southern Cal has also been rumored to be making inroads. Once again – this will all have to wait until after the baseball draft to see how high this speedster (4.4 40-yard dash) goes.

6. Shamier Jeffery, ATH, Calhoun County: Jeffery is the younger brother of Alshon Jeffery, the receiver for the Gamecocks, and he could play any number of positions at the next level. His high school coaches believe he can play quarterback in college, while a lot of college coaches believe his best position will be receiver. Jeffery is looking for a school that will give him the chance to try and earn a quarterback spot first, and right now Joker Phillips and the Kentucky Wildcats appear to be in the lead. Joining Kentucky are Tennessee, Auburn, Georgia Tech and South Carolina, but if Kentucky continues to promise to give him a shot at quarterback, don’t assume he will follow Alshon to Columbia.

7. Everett Golson, QB, Myrtle Beach: Golson is already committed to the University of North Carolina, and while he hasn’t completely ruled out taking other visits, he will stay a Tar Heel. Early in 2010, he will surpass 10,000 passing yards, and he has already thrown for 124 touchdowns. The biggest concern most colleges have is his size (5-11, 170 on a good day), and some think he could end up as a receiver in college, but don’t bet on it. If Drew Brees can win a Super Bowl at that height, then nothing should stop Golson from succeeding as a quarterback at the next level, provided he adds some muscle to help him take the pounding.

8. Lateek Townsend, LB, Marlboro County: Watch any film of the 6-2, 200-pound Townsend and you realize that this big, athletic linebacker is a perfect fit for Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele’s defense. Townsend said he committed to the Tigers earlier, and then backed out on it, but the Tigers remain in good shape with him, along with South Carolina, Southern Cal [where he will attend camp next month] and Florida.

9. Shaq Anthony, OT, Wren: Here is what we wrote on Anthony earlier this week: Anthony committed to the Tigers back in December, adding to what is already a solid class of junior prospects for the Tigers, and he plans to enroll in Clemson in January.
Anthony is a 6-foot-5, 270-pounder who was an All-Region 1-AAAA selection last year for the Hurricanes, and he graded out at 91 percent, from his left tackle spot.

10. Pat Martin, S, J.L. Mann: Here is what we wrote on Martin earlier this week: Martin (6-0, 185, 4.5) earned all-state honors last season after piling up 121tackles, 12 pass breakups, four forced fumbles, and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.

Martin currently has offers from Duke, Maryland, Minnesota, Arkansas, UCLA, Louisville, Cincinnati, Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State and Oklahoma. Martin said he doesn’t have a favorite at this point, but did say that the early leaders are LSU, Tennessee, Louisville, Cincinnati and Arkansas. His only visits this spring were to USC and Clemson, and he will visit Alabama next weekend.

Martin hasn’t been offered by the Tigers as of yet, and the word is that the coaching staff would like to evaluate him more during camp this summer, but Martin did enjoy his earlier visit to Tigertown, and he said he understands that the Tigers already have a good number of defensive back prospects on scholarship

“Coach Powell told me that with scholarships, they have to look at a lot of film,” Martin said. “Coach Cheese [Charlie Harbison] is going to evaluate it, and they are going to let their defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach see it. But he did tell me that they were looking at me like a DeAndre McDaniel type on defense.”

Martin said he likes the Clemson facilities, and its proximity to his Greenville home.

“They took me around the facilities and showed me everything,” he said. “I know Clemson is a program on the rise, and I would love to go there and be close to home. All of my coaches and friends could come and see me play.”

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