Defensive back Israel Mukuamu of Bossier City, La., a former football standout at Berkeley High School in Moncks Corner, made his official visit to the University of South Carolina over the weekend with his parents.
He has been committed to Florida State, but USC, and others continue to recruit him hard. He saw USC's defense perhaps at its finest in the win over Arkansas with three touchdowns on returns. That, along with the message from head coach Will Muschamp on Sunday, left an impression on him.
"I really loved the visit; it was a much needed visit and a helpful visit," Mukuamu said. "It was just getting a more in-depth visit as far as seeing where I'm at and where they see me playing in their system. I talked with Coach Muschamp and he said he felt like this would be the best place for me as far as knowing people, being from the state and getting to play early and change the program."
While watching Saturday's game, Mukuamu obviously was focused on the defense and the secondary. "I loved it," he said. "The defense really played great and took a few back for a touchdown. They just played phenomenal."
Mukuamu said he was hosted by Justin King and Keisean Nixon. He also met with the academic people from the university.
Mukuamu also has taken an official visit to Indiana. He will visit Georgia this weekend and he has FSU scheduled for Oct. 20. He expects it will take him up to the early signing date to finalize his plans.
"I'm still committed, but I'm still going to think through it and leave it up to God and keep praying," Mukuamu said. "I'm going to keep them (USC) in mind. The visit did help close the gap."
Linebcker Dax Hollifield of Shelby, N.C., also made his official visit to USC over the weekend. He also has taken an official visit to FSU and has future officials with North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Stanford. He also was at Virginia Tech unofficially for the Clemson game.
"He's enjoyed everywhere he's been. He's going to have a tough decision," said Hollifield's head coach, Lance Ware. "They are all good schools to choose from, and he has built good relationships with all the coaches, including (assistant) Coach (Coleman) Hutzler and Coach Muschamp. He likes a bigtime atmosphere and an opportunity to play early. He just needs to pick where he will be happy for four to five years."
Going into Friday's game, Hollifield had 62 total tackles with 11 tackles for loss, two quarterback sacks and one pass breakup.
USC's efforts to turn defensive end Dorian Gerald away from his Tennessee commitment got a boost on Saturday as he witnessed USC's strong defensive effort against Arkansas. The Florence native, who had an off weekend from his schedule with College of the Canyons Junior College in California, made an unofficial visit to Columbia with a cousin. The Gamecocks scored their most one-sided victory of the Muschamp era and that was part of a positive experience for Gerald.
"I loved it, I really enjoyed it. It opened up my eyes," said Gerald, who last visited USC in the summer before committing to Tennessee. "The environment was huge and I liked everything about the game. The defense played well. I feel like I could help a little bit with the pass rush.
"I talked to everybody, (defensive coordinator) Coach (Travaris) Robinson, Coach Muschamp, (assistant) Coach (Lance) Thompson. They said the opportunity is still here and they still need me and want me to come in and I have a huge opportunity there."
Asked if he could see himself fitting in that defense, Gerald said, "Oh, most definitely. This was an eye opener and I can't wait to get back on my official with my family and let my family see everything. It was way more than I expected with everything, with the environment and the playing."
Gerald will return to USC for his official visit on Nov. 17. He will go to Tennessee for an official on Nov. 24. He does not have any other visits planned at this point. He has talked about visiting Florida as well.
Offensive line target Dylan Wonnum of Tucker, Ga., also made an unofficial visit to USC on Saturday. His brother, of course, is a USC DE. He told USA Today that he's still open, talks with coaches every day, and UF now stands out the most. He's also been looking hard at Louisiana State and Auburn.
Defensive lineman Rick Sandidge of Concord, N.C., will take his next visit on Oct. 21. He's not sure yet where he'll be going on that day, but it will be somewhere he's already visited. Sandidge said USC has been in touch just checking up on him. He's also talking regularly with Georgia, UF, Michigan, Penn State, North Carolina and VT, the other schools in his top seven. Sandidge said he has four of his official visits set but won't release those visits until all five are set. It does not look like USC will get one.
"I don't see a reason for South Carolina having one because they are right there," Sandidge said. "That's not going to defeat their chances of me going to South Carolina." Sandidge said he will visit USC again unofficially at some point.
DB CJ Smith of West Palm Beach, Fla., said he's not heard back from USC since his official visit for the Louisiana Tech weekend, but he's looking for a call from recruiter Robinson at any time. He will visit Mississippi on Oct. 21 and Oklahoma on Oct. 28. He's also hearing from Baylor. Smith said he'll be ready to make his decision after the Oklahoma visit unless he sets up a visit with Baylor in early November. He said Oklahoma has been recruiting him the hardest.
USC's Thompson was in touch recently with offered DE Mario Dungy of Highland JC in Kansas. Thompson and Dungy are working on an official visit date. If his team doesn't make a bowl, the visit might happen the Clemson weekend. If not, he'll visit after the season. Dungy also is talking with Maryland, Kentucky and Kansas. USC is his biggest offer at this point, and he feels good about USC at this point.
OL Damien Lewis of Northwest Mississippi JC last heard from USC OL coach Eric Wolford about three weeks ago. He said Wolford told him the offer is still on the table. Lewis made an official visit to USC in June. He took an official visit to UK for the UF game and is scheduled to visit Ole Miss on Oct. 20. He also wants to take officials to West Virginia and LSU.
DE Antonio Anderson of Lower Richland High in Hopkins planned to visit North Carolina State for last week's game with Louisville. He's also expecting to talk again soon with USC's Robinson. He's also been hearing from Appalachian State, Georgia State, Old Dominion, Charleston Southern and Eastern Kentucky. He plans to attend a game at Georgia State on Oct. 26.
USC LB target Channing Tindall of Spring Valley High in Columbia told Auburn247 he plans to visit Auburn Thanksgiving weekend for the Alabama game. He did not say if the visit will be official or unofficial. Tindall also picked up a Texas offer.
USC recently offered 2019 quarterback Ty Evans of Monument, Colo. He's an Arkansas commitment, but the USC offer does interest him. According to stats from MaxPreps, Evans is the second leading passer in Colorado with 1,762 yards, 24 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Connor Bazelak, a '19 QB from Dayton, Ohio, is a pro-style quarterback who has had some contact from USC QB coach and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. He has offers from UK, Toledo and Western Michigan. He has made visits this season to Vanderbilt, Northwestern, UK and Cincinnati.
DeAngelo Griffin, a '19 DL from Cordele, Ga., is planning a commitment soon. USC is one of his early offers. Some of his others are Arkansas, Wake Forest, Alabama-Birmingham, Western Kentucky and Georgia Southern. His best friend is teammate LB Ahdarrious Gee, who is already a USC commitment for the '19 class.
Brandon Bunkley, a '19 OL from Decatur, Ga., is hearing from USC, Georgia Tech and Cincinnati, according to RecruitGeorgia.
Clemson is on the board with its first commitment for the '19 class. DB Joseph Charleston (6-feet-2-inches, 190 pounds) of Alpharetta, Ga., announced a commitment to the Tigers on Monday. He visited for the WF game last weekend, the third game he has been to this season.
He also had offers from Alabama, UGA, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Ohio State, WVU, Vandy and others.
"One school sticks out from the rest," Charleston wrote on Twitter. "After many talks with my family and coaches, I am officially committed to Clemson University."
He said recently Clemson, Alabama, Tennessee and UGA were high on his list. He has a brother who plays baseball at Tennessee.
Charleston is a safety, a position the Tigers are still trying to address in their '18 class. They took two safeties in '16 but none in the '17 class.
Wide receiver Justyn Ross of Phenix City, Ala., remains one of the top uncommitted targets on Clemson's board. WR coach Jeff Scott is in almost daily contact, according to Ross, who made an unofficial visit for the Auburn game. He plans to return on an unofficial visit for the FSU game and then take his official visit the following weekend for The Citadel game. Clemson is the only official visit he has set, but he also will set officials with Alabama and Auburn.
Clemson OL target Jamaree Salyer of Atlanta was scheduled for an official visit to UF over the weekend. He has had Clemson and UGA as his top two. He also is planning to visit Ohio State officially. He has set Dec. 20 for his announcement.
OL Jordan McFadden of Dorman High in Roebuck remains committed to VT, but Clemson, his childhood favorite, weighs heavy on his mind. He was in Blacksburg for the recent Clemson win over the Hokies.
"It's about how it was before," McFadden said of the strength of his commitment. "It was good to get down there and talk to the coaches and hang out with them for a while, but knowing how I've liked Clemson forever, I'm just kind of like stuck in the middle a little bit."
On a 1-10 scale, he called his commitment strength a 6.5. He said the Clemson coaches really want him back to visit for the FSU game. VT wants him to return for the UNC and he might go.
OL Jackson Carman of Fairfield, Ohio, did not make a scheduled official visit to Wisconsin the last weekend in September. He has eliminated the Badgers because he can't enroll there in January, his head coach told Scout.com. He is scheduled to visit Clemson, Ohio State, Southern California and FSU.
DB Kelvin Joseph of Baton Rouge, La., decommitted from LSU in the wake of the Tigers' upset loss to Troy. He said LSU is still No. 1 on his list, but he's looking at others, including Clemson. He told a 247Sports site he plans to visit Clemson for the FSU game. He also plans to visit Alabama.
Dorman's '19 WR Jacoby Pinckney was at VT for the Clemson game. Cam'Ron Kelly, a '19 DB from Chesapeake, Va., visited Clemson recently.
CLEMSON AND USC
DB Jaycee Horn of Alpharetta, Ga., landed a Clemson offer last week. Horn has been committed to Tennessee since the summer, and his current position is that he's 100 percent with the Volunteers despite the turmoil in Knoxville. However, he is still looking at other options. That's why he continues to take visits this season, including stops last month at Clemson and USC. He planned to visit Auburn this past weekend and was at Tennessee for the UGA game. He does not have any other unofficial visits set, but he plans to get back to Clemson and USC for games. USC was his second choice when he committed to Tennessee and USC remains on his trail.
"I hear from them every day," Horn said. "Mostly T-Rob (Robinson). I'm going to take all my officials, and South Carolina and Tennessee will definitely get one."
Horn witnessed one of Tennessee's worst home losses ever, and the Vol fans have been howling.
"Everybody is saying (Tennessee head) Coach (Butch) Jones won't be there next year and things like that," Horn said. "I have a close relationship with all the coaches. Right now I'm a hundred percent committed to Coach Jones. I've been talking to them quite a bit and I know they still believe in me and that's always a big thing."
USC target 6-8 Simi Shittu of Vermont Academy made an official visit to Vandy last weekend. He also has a visit set with UNC for Nov. 10.
Jericole Hellems, a 6-7 player from St. Louis, has taken official visits to USC and NCSU and hasn't scheduled any others at this point. He said USC is still involved with him and he's been talking with all of the assistants. He said USC was out to see him a couple of weeks ago.
"I feel good about South Carolina and I feel good about my other schools," Hellems said. "I just need some time. They see me as a player that can impact the game and help their organization on top of what they've already been doing."
Some of those other schools are Missouri, Arkansas, VT, GT and UF.
USC also remains involved with 6-10 Kaosi Ezeagu of GTA Prep in Canada. His head coach said they are working on trying to set up an official visit with USC.
Clemson is in the final three with 6-1 Devon Dotson of Charlotte. He has been to Clemson unofficially and took a recent official visit to Maryland. Kansas also in the mix and his father told Rivals a decision should come down within a week.
Clemson no longer is involved with 5-11 point guard Anthony Nelson of South Kent, Conn. He said he is down to Dayton, Seton Hall and Minnesota.
Clemson offered 6-6 '19 recruit Elias King of Snellville, Ga.
Josiah James, a 6-7 '19 recruit from Porter-Gaud in Charleston, was offered by Texas.
USC women's target 5-11 Christyn Williams of Little Rock, Ark., visited Texas this past weekend and will visit Connecticut this weekend. She has visited USC, UCLA and Tennessee.
Olivia Nelson-Ododa, a 6-4 player from Winder, Ga., took an official visit to FSU over the weekend with her AAU teammate, Morgan Jones. She visited USC last month and also has Stanford, Duke, UConn and UGA on her short list.