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Gamecocks land North Carolina linebacker Steele

Phil Kornblut
Sports Contributor
Posted 4/25/20

The University of South Carolina football program reeled in one of its longtime targets on Saturday in 3-star linebacker Bryce Steele (6-feet-2-inches, 200 pounds) of Raleigh, N.C.

He announced for USC over North Carolina and Texas. Steele is …

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Gamecocks land North Carolina linebacker Steele


The University of South Carolina football program reeled in one of its longtime targets on Saturday in 3-star linebacker Bryce Steele (6-feet-2-inches, 200 pounds) of Raleigh, N.C.

He announced for USC over North Carolina and Texas. Steele is ranked as the No. 15 inside linebacker in the country in the 247Sports composite and the ninth best prospect in Virginia, where he attends school.

"They stuck with me from day to day," Steele said in making his announcement on "Despite me not playing this past season (due to surgery to remove a benign mass from his chest), that didn't affect how they recruited me. I felt as though they made me a priority. The game atmosphere there is crazy. And the relationship I have with the coaches there is great. So, why not?"

Steele and USC have had a long-running relationship dating back to summer camp two years ago. USC head coach Will Muschamp later offered and USC was always one of the schools at the top of his list from there he told

"I first camped there two summers ago before they offered, and after camp Coach Muschamp personally came up to me and told me that they will be recruiting me until the day I sign with a school and that hopefully it'd be them," Steele said. "I camped again this past summer, and I also went to watch them play Alabama.

"One thing I love about the Gamecocks is the relationship I have with the coaching staff. We talk on a regular basis. It's a good academic school, big time SEC (Southeastern Conference) football, and they seem to play their players early."

Steele visited USC a half-dozen times over the process, most recently in March when he got the chance to watch some practice. USC is looking to replenish its LBs and that was duly noted by Steele.

"They are pretty thin at the linebacker position, so I'll be able to come in and get early playing time right away if I come in and do everything I'm supposed to do," Steele said. "I could see the field pretty early. That's a big factor for me, an opportunity to possibly play early and develop as a player. They expressed they not only want me but they need me to be a part of the team, not only as a player on the field but as a leader on the field and off the field."

As a sophomore, Steele had 43 tackles with six quarterback sacks. He plans to sign in December but will not be an early graduate.

Steele gives USC five new commitments for the 2021 recruiting class, and with carryovers from last recruiting season, there are now eight counting in the class.

Three-star cornerback/safety Demarko Williams of Atlanta committed to USC in January. About two months later, he decommitted. Since then, Williams has seen his recruiting heat up.

His offer list now includes Florida State, North Carolina State, Mississippi, Tennessee, Maryland, Kentucky, Arkansas, Wake Forest, Minnesota, Oregon and Pittsburgh. He's wide open on his decision now, and that includes USC.

He has not shut the door on the possibility of committing again to Muschamp, and he talks regularly with him.

"I talk to them every day," Williams said. "I talk to Muschamp, and as always, they want me. It's the same as when they first started recruiting me, nothing different. They understood when I decommitted, the reasons."

And those reasons were not about anything negative with USC. It was about timing. After thinking over things, Williams figured out he had committed too soon and robbed himself of the opportunity to be fully recruited.

"The reason I decommitted was I just wanted to weigh my options out," Williams said. "I committed too early as a junior. Going into my senior year, I feel like I need to weigh my options out. I don't want to put all my eggs in one basket."

Along with USC, Williams said he hears a lot from FSU, Ole Miss and UK. He visited USC in January and when he can get back on the road he wants to check out FSU, West Virginia, Ole Miss, Tennessee, NCSU and UK. In July he plans to narrow his list to a top five, and he wants to make his next decision before the start of school.

The offers have piled up for Gaffney High School defensive tackle Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins. He now counts 27, including USC, Syracuse, WVU, Tennessee, Auburn, FSU, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Penn State, Kansas State, Maryland and Georgia Tech. Recruiters have kept him busy during the pandemic, contacting him through all available forms of communication. That includes USC, Muschamp, defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson and defensive line coach Tracy Rocker.

"I talk to Muschamp every day, I talk to Coach T-Rob (Robinson) maybe every two days, and I talk to Coach Rocker every day," Ingram-Dawkins said. "I already have a tight relationship with the coaching staff obviously. We talk about the impact I can have on the team, and it's my home state, South Carolina."

Ingram-Dawkins is not to the point where he's ready to cut down his list, but he has a feel for those schools working him the hardest on the recruiting trail. In that category, he cited USC, Georgia, Tennessee, FSU and UNC.

"I feel good about the teams that are recruiting me real hard," Ingram-Dawkins said. "I'm just ready for this coronavirus pandemic to end so I can get down the road and get to visit, see other places and see how it fits me.

"I feel good about South Carolina. I feel good about other places that's recruiting me hard and giving me the opportunity."

Once he can get back on the road, Ingram-Dawkins said he'll visit a number of schools, in particular USC, UNC, WVU, FSU and Auburn. Before recruiting in person was stopped, he was able to visit USC, Virginia Tech, Tennessee and UGA.

Ingram-Dawkins carries a 3-star rating in the 247Sports composite and is ranked as the 25th DT nationally and the No. 3 player in the state. However, 247Sports itself rates him as a 4-star talent, No. 17 among DTs and the No. 1 player in the state.

Rocker dished out another offer on Wednesday, this one to 3-star prospect Luther McCoy (6-4, 280) of Saint Augustine, Fla. McCoy is ranked as the 53rd best DT prospect in the nation, and his offers are piling up. Rocker also offered McCoy when he was at Tennessee, so the two have some history.

"I talked to the D-line coach Tracy Rocker for about a week and he offered," McCoy said. "I was very excited. It's a great program and a great school and I was excited to get it. He liked my size, style of play, aggressive you know."

McCoy also has offers from FSU, GT, Indiana, Baylor, Central Florida, South Florida, Florida Atlantic, Mississippi State, UK, NCSU, Nebraska, Syracuse, Colorado State, Coastal Carolina, Marshall, Ohio, Troy, Connecticut and Georgia State. He visited Florida State and Duke before visits were suspended and hopes to visit USC in the future.

Right now, McCoy said Baylor, FSU, Duke and Tennessee are standing out, but he's far from finalizing things, and that includes looking more closely at USC.

"Honestly, I'm excited but I'm looking at everybody," McCoy said. "Right now I have 26 offers. I'm trying to enjoy my recruiting and take my time."

McCoy said he had 12 sacks last season, playing mostly on the inside of the DL.

DT Javon Kinlaw rose from the junior college ranks to All-American at USC. Next week he's expected to hear his named called early in the first round of the National Football League draft. Kinlaw is the model for what Muschamp and Rocker will seek in future DTs.

The pair identified one possibility this week with an offer to 3-star DT Isaiah Coe (6-3, 310) of Iowa Western JC. He's ranked the #1 JC DT prospect in the country by 247Sports. Coe is a native of Flossmoor, Ill., who went right to JC following high school.

Last season, he had 37 tackles with 6 1/2 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and he forced two fumbles.

Coe said USC just recently contacted him and the offer came quickly.

"It was kind of on the spot," Coe said. "They said they watched my film and they did their homework, and then that's when they decided to offer me, so they did. I talked to Coach Rocker, Coach Muschamp and (offensive line) Coach (Eric) Wolford. They liked that I was athletic, disruptive and I would be sort of be like a Javon Kinlaw-type player in the 3-4 or the 4-3 (defensive formations). Just play havoc on the back end."

Coe is just now starting to build his relationship with the USC staff, but from the early conversations he likes its approach to him.

"They were very sincere and very thoughtful on how they really thought of me and how highly they thought of me," Coe said. "They really felt like I'd be a good impact on the school and the program."

Some of the other offers for Coe include Oklahoma, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Syracuse, Houston, UCF, Memphis, Louisiana and Liberty. His plan is to take things slowly until he reaches the point where he wants to shorten his list.

"Every school right now I'm taking into consideration," Coe said. "I'm just taking it day by day and see how far this goes. Once I know there's something that's going to happen for sure, that's when I'll start separating the schools."

Coe said he is on track to graduate in December. He will have three to play two at the next level.

Wide receiver Chauncey Magwood (6-0, 187) of Leesburg, Ga., named a top six of USC, Nebraska, Arkansas, FSU, Louisville and UK. FSU is the only one of the six he's visited. He plans to see the others once he can get back on the road and then cut his list to three. From there he wants to take official visits before making his decision.

He is ranked No. 37 in Georgia in the 247Sports composite.

"Over the last two months, me and the wide receiver coach have been talking every now and then," Magwood said. "We've been looking at the schedules and trying to get me to visit so I can explore the place more. And I've been looking at their plays to see how I fit into their program and all that. He compares me to (former USC standout WR) Deebo Samuel. He said he would get me bigger and stronger and get me at top speed. He said he would play me outside and get me one-on-one, and the inside slot."

USC is in the process of rebuilding the talent in the WR room as it will lose five over the next two seasons. Magwood sees the opportunity for early playing time as a big positive for USC in its recruitment of him.

"I just feel I have an opportunity there," Magwood said. "At South Carolina I feel the opportunity is greater for me there. I think I would have a high chance as a true freshman."

Magwood comes from the same high school as USC SAF Jammie Robinson. Last season, he caught 50 passes for 700 yards and 14 touchdowns. He plans to be an early graduate.

Two recent USC offers in Florida, defensive end Deonte Anderson (6-4, 215) of Fort Meade and CB Tavoris Miller (6-0, 160) of Miami, continue to hear regularly from USC coaches.

Anderson is coming off a season of 40 tackles and 14 sacks. His pass rushing ability is what caught the eye of Muschamp.

"He said he likes the way that I get off the ball and how explosive I am," Anderson said. "He said I can be one of their go-to players on defense." Anderson has not yet visited USC, but he hopes to do so once the visit embargo is lifted. However, the offer was enough to push USC to the top of his list.

"They are on the top, near the top, because that's my first SEC offer," Anderson said. "That's very important. Nebraska and West Virginia are up there with them."

Anderson, who is also a basketball player, was offered Sunday by East Carolina. He also has offers from GT, VT, Marshall, UCF, WVU and Cincinnati.

Miller has visited USC once, and that was with his travel basketball team. He also hopes to get back once the travel restrictions are lifted. He's a multi-position player who never comes off the field. He's used as a running back, WR, SAF and kick returner. However, he talks with Robinson and he likes him as a CB.

"I've been talking to the UM (Miami) coach, and all the coaches I've been offered by, and more coaches," Miller said. "Coach T-Rob said he liked my film, and I could be a corner for South Carolina."

Before Miller can focus on his recruiting, he has to resolve his eligibility situation for this season. Miller said with his birthday in June, he will be above the age limit for high school football in Florida. His coaches are appealing to their high school association, and Miller said he's confident he will win the appeal.

Miller also holds offers from Miami, Illinois, USF, Indiana, Kansas, Coastal, Troy, FIU, Western Kentucky and Tennessee State.

WR JJ Jones of Myrtle Beach High cut his list to a top 10 of USC, UNC, WVU, Mississippi State, Arkansas, PSU, Tennessee, UGA, Michigan and VT. Some of those not making the cut were Louisville, Vanderbilt, WF, Indiana, GT, Kansas State and Missouri.

USC offered Jones earlier this month. He has also been talking to Clemson but the Tigers have not yet offered.

USC is in the final five with OL Colby Smith of Reidsville, N.C. The others are NCSU, Louisville, Tennessee and UNC.

USC is included in the top 10 with DE Mattheus Carroll of Baltimore. The others are Maryland, Louisville, WVU, Pitt, Temple, Duke, Vandy, Cincy and VT.

A USC offer went out to DE Shemar Pearl (6-6, 235) of Garden City JC, KS. He's a native of Plano, Texas, who committed to Mizzou after his senior season of 75 tackles and 11 sacks. Last season, he had 22 tackles and two sacks.

Other USC offers went out DT Anthony Hundley (6-3, 270) of Miami, an LSU commitment; athlete Jayden Johnson (6-2, 195) of Cedartown, Ga.; LB Michael Mincey (6-1m 210) of Waycross, Ga.; RB Josh McCray (6-1, 207) of Enterprise, Ala.; '22 RB Omarion Hampton of Clayton, N.C.; '22 LB Jaylen Sneed of Hilton Head Island High; '22 LB Ty Anderson (6-0, 200) of Thomasville, Ga.,; '22 tight end Trent McGaughey of Pearland, Texas; LB Leon Hart Jr. (6-2, 190) of Opa Locka, Fla.; '22 defensive back Isaac Thompson of St. Louis; and '23 ATH Cedric Baxter of Orlando, Fla.

USC OL target Caleb Etienne of Butler County JC in Kansas was offered by Mississippi State, USC RB target Trevion Cooley was offered by Virginia, and USC DB target Javon Bullard of Milledgeville, Ga., was offered by Louisville.


One of the big OLs Clemson is pursuing this spring is OT Nolan Rucci (6-8, 266) of Lititz, Pa. He's rated the No. 3 OT in the country in the 247Sports composite and the No. 1 prospect in Pennsylvania.

He's a PSU legacy and his brother plays at Wisconsin. Those two are with Clemson and many others battling for his services. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and OL coach Robbie Caldwell are keeping Clemson right in the fight.

"I'd say Clemson is pretty high up on the list," Rucci said. "They've been recruiting me pretty hard the past few months. They were one of the visits I actually got to take this spring. I always appreciate spending time with the staff."

Spending time right now means FaceTime, Zoom conferencing, telephone calls and text messages. Rucci said not a day goes by that he's not locked down with some coaching staff in one form or another. Clemson rings him up regularly.

"Obviously I've been in close contact with Coach Caldwell in the past few weeks," Rucci said. "Actually got a chance to sit down with the family and get on FaceTime with Coach Swinney in the last week. That was a really cool experience. We've met in person a few times, but it was just cool to get another opportunity to sit down with him and talk." The message Rucci continues to receive from Swinney and Caldwell is pretty basic.

"I'm a really good fit for their program, not only as a player but as a person," Rucci said. "Coach Caldwell is such a great dude. I could just sit down and talk to him for hours, not just about football but about fishing and anything in between. So I'm just sitting down and having those conversations at this time and how it would work if I were there." Rucci, of course, has offers from coast to coast. Some of the others on the list are Notre Dame, UGA, Michigan, Miami, Stanford, A&M, Louisiana State, Alabama, Florida, Washington, Oklahoma, Arizona State and Oregon. Because of the inability to visit schools this spring, he's not yet at the point where he's ready to cut down his list.

"I hope we have that opportunity some time this summer at least to get out and see these schools," he said. "I would like to make a decision, if everything works out ideally before the season, have a school in mind and maybe commit somewhere. But with this virus, it's really up in the air."

Along with Clemson, Rucci also has taken unofficial visits to Tennessee, PSU and Wisconsin.

DT Payton Page of Greensboro, N.C., named a final three of Clemson, UNC and Tennessee.

ATH Kendal Daniels of Beggs, Okla., included Clemson in his top 12 along with A&M, ND, Oregon, Oklahoma, FSU, Arkansas, LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma State, Baylor and UGA.


USC and Clemson are in the top eight with DE Zaire Patterson of Winston-Salem, N.C. The others are UNC, Alabama, UK, Oklahoma, UGA and ND.

USC and Clemson CB target Nathaniel Wiggins of Atlanta was offered by Southern California. NCSU and Texas also recently offered.

OL Diego Pounds of Raleigh, who has USC and Clemson interest, was offered by Michigan and UF.