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Wide receiver Rico Powers (6-feet-2-inches, 181 pounds), a native of Savannah, Ga., who attends Hapeville Charter outside of Atlanta, announced a commitment to the South Carolina football program on Tuesday, giving USC three WRs in its 2020 recruiting class.
Powers took an unofficial visit to Columbia on Saturday for the Alabama game and following that visit said he was closing in on his final decision. Arkansas and Nebraska were the other two programs involved with Powers at the end.
USC has been working Powers for an extended period and he made multiple visits to the school. He visited for the spring game and returned for a camp session in June. He said USC sees him simply as a WR who can make things happen.
"They think I'm a playmaker," Powers said. "They want me there. I'm very excited about that. I know he (WR coach and offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon) really wants me and wants to coach me. I'm not really looking for the school, I'm looking for the school that chooses me. I love the way they are showing how much they want me."
Powers also looked at offers from Tennessee, Oregon, North Carolina State and Virginia before moving toward USC.
He gives USC a total of 21 newcomers in the '20 class at this point, a figure that includes three transfers.
Last season, he had 17 catches for 552 yards and six touchdowns.
Powers was joined on Saturday's visit by his teammate, '21 linebacker Zavier Carter, who also has a USC offer.
Defensive end Reggie Grimes of Brentwood, Tenn., is one of the most heralded uncommitted players left on USC's '20 board. He took his official visit to Columbia in June and planned to be back on Saturday for the Alabama game.
"I've been talking mostly with (assistant) Coach (Bobby) Bentley and (head) Coach (Will) Muschamp," Grimes said. "They're telling me I can play really early, freshman year type thing. And they got me to develop me for 3, 3 1/2 years. And they are going to win a lot of games during that time."
Grimes will take his official visit this weekend to Alabama. Some website reports have attempted to downplay Alabama's interest, questioning if Grimes is still a "take" by Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban. Grimes said Saban and his staff aren't playing that kind of game with him. The option is there for him to go to Alabama if he so chooses.
"Yeah, definitely, if I wanted to go," Grimes said. "I actually just talked to one of their coaches just before you called. So, if I wanted to go there, I can."
Grimes also has an official visit set with Tennessee for Oct. 5, and he plans to take an official visit to Vanderbilt.He's also going to see Mississippi, though he's not sure yet if that will be official or unofficial. He has set late in the afternoon of Thanksgiving Day for his commitment announcement.
Some of the other confirmed USC visitors Saturday were DE Jordan Burch of Hammond in Columbia, tight end Jaheim Bell of Valdosta, Ga., LB Len'Neth Whitehead of Athens, Ga., LB Desmond Tisdol of Rochelle, Ga., '21 offensive lineman Dylan Fairchild of Cumming, Ga., '21 athlete Kamarro Edmonds of Havelock, N.C., '21 ATH Adonis Davis of Blackville-Hilda High School, '21 LB Dameon Wilson of Kings Mountain, N.C., and '23 quarterback Raheim Jeter of Greer High.
USC cornerback target Jahquez Robinson of Jacksonville, Fla., took an official visit to Oklahoma earlier in the month. He also plans to visit USC. He remains an Alabama commitment.
USC offered '21 WR Dezmond Johnson III of Houston, according to his Twitter page. Johnson also claims offers from Louisville and South Florida.
Jake Briningstool (6-6, 210), a '21 TE from Brentwood, Tenn., made a return visit to Clemson this month for the Texas A&M game, his first game day experience with Clemson. Clemson was already in a good place with Briningstool prior to this visit, and it further enhanced its chances with him due to his experience.
"I had heard all about it (Clemson's tradition of running down the hill) and how cool it is, but to actually see it live was pretty special," Briningstool said. "We ate and hung out with some of the other recruits. We talked to the coaches a little bit as they were coming through and then we went over and watched Tiger Walk. That was pretty cool to see.
"After Tiger Walk, my family and I went into (head) Coach (Dabo) Swinney's office for probably 10 minutes. We just talked and he was telling me how much of a priority I am to the class, and how I'm the only tight end they've offered so far, and I'm the one they wanted. That was a good conversation. Then we hung out in the recruiting room for a little bit, and we watch the warmups. After warmups, they took a couple of us over to the (Howard's) Rock, and we actually got to watch the team run in from the hill, so that was pretty cool."
Briningstool is one of the nation's top TE recruits in his class, with offers from most Power Five conference programs. After this visit, he can see things coming into focus, in particular with four programs.
"Clemson is definitely at the top of my list right now," he said. "I would say Clemson, Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State. "Those are probably some of my top schools, but Clemson is definitely near the top. We have a good relationship with most of the coaches over there. I like it a lot. Me and (assistant) Coach (Dan) Pearman, since Sept. 1 rolled around, he's been sending me graphics. We have a pretty strong relationship. I like Coach Pearman a lot. He's a real family guy and I really like that about him. He's more of a father figure to the tight ends who are there now, and I really, really like that about him."
Last season, Briningstool had 25 catches for 325 yards and a TD.
Clemson has a pair of offers out to running backs in the '21 class at this point, and one of those, Phil Mafah of Loganville, Ga., already has committed. The other with an offer, Will Shipley of Matthews, N.C., took in his first game at Death Valley when Clemson defeated A&M. Not only did Shipley get a better look at the program, he got a clearer understanding of where things stand between him and RB coach and co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott.
"I got there a little bit early on the first bus over to the complex and I got to sit down and eat lunch with Cach Pearman," Shipley said. "I was on the first bus over to the stadium, and I sat down and had a couple of minutes with Coach Elliott, which was really, really cool, just trying to hash it out with him before the game to see what he was thinking. I got to see them run down the hill, hear Dabo's pregame speech and postgame speech. It was an incredible experience."
One of the concerns for Shipley going into the visit was where he stood in the recruiting pecking order since Elliott already has the one RB commitment. What he needed to know with certainty was Elliott's plan about taking a second RB in the '21 class, or if he likes him enough for another position, such as slot WR.
"He told me they are going to recruit me," Shipley said. "He had planned to take one running back in the '21 class, but Coach Swinney gave him the go ahead to go ahead and recruit me. I didn't ask him too much into detail because we got into some stuff about the game. I just know they are going to continue to recruit me."
That was good news for Shipley as everything else on the visit added up to Clemson having a spot among his favorites he will announce after his season.
"It's an awesome place, it's got everything you can ask for," Shipley said. "At this point, you really can't make a bad decision. It's definitely up there on my list. I have a group of six or seven schools and I think going there Saturday and just being in the atmosphere, it definitely moved it up the list with me."
Shipley went to UVa on Saturday. He said he will also get to USC for a game this season. He will visit Notre Dame in October for the Southern California game.
Some of his other offers are NCSU, Stanford, Duke, Wake Forest, West Virginia, UVa, Florida, Georgia, Southern Cal, Arkansas, Vandy, ND, Oregon, Tennessee, and Ohio State.
Last season, Shipley accounted for 2,000 yards of offense rushing and receiving along with 26 TDs.
TE Arik Gilbert of Marietta, Ga., made an unofficial visit to Clemson for the A&M game and continues to consider Clemson along with UGA, A&M, Alabama and Tennessee. It was his third visit to Clemson this year. Gilbert was scheduled for an official to A&M over the weekend. He also has taken an official visit to Alabama.
Payton Page, a '21 defensive tackle from Greensboro, N.C., also made an unofficial visit to Clemson for the A&M game.
CLEMSON AND USC
Colten Gauthier, a '21 QB from Dacula, Ga., was back at Clemson for the A&M game. Gauthier is a prime prospect for a Clemson offer, and he has one from USC and several others.
This visit gave him a chance to see behind the scenes of the Clemson program and how he might fit in given the chance.
"It was awesome," Gauthier said. "I was able to spend about an hour with (assistant) Coach (Brandon) Streeter before the game in his office. Also, I was taken on the sidelines during pregame and into the locker room before the game, and then was taken to the top of the hill to watch the players and Dabo run down the hill. I went into the locker room afterwards. It was a great day. Plus, Clemson won."
Streeter offered a couple of '21 QBs earlier in the year, but they opted to commit elsewhere. He's holding his cards close to the vest this time as he decides who to offer next. Gauthier knows he's on the short list.
"Coach Streeter talked to me about him coming to my football game on Oct. 11," Gauthier said. "I talked about their quarterback game preparation. He discussed his high interest in me, and he talked to my sister Kaitlyn about her plans after college. It was just an all-around great conversation, and we watched a couple college games on TV in his office."
Watching the game in person also gave Gauthier a good look at the Clemson offense and a chance to envision himself with the keys to that machine.
"I run basically the same offense," he said. "I think my skill set fits perfectly into that offense. RPO (run-pass options) reads, ball out quick, deep throws, a lot of pre-snap reads."
Gauthier planned to visit Central Florida this past Saturday and is set to visit USC again for the Kentucky game at the end of the month.
The state's top '20 basketball recruit, 6-9 PJ Hall of Dorman High in Roebuck, had a recent busy 3-day stretch of recruiting activity.
Two weekends back, he made his second official visit to Clemson. On the following Monday, the first day of the new basketball recruiting period, Hall was visited at his school by coaches from Clemson, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.
Hall knows Clemson extremely well considering the number of visits he has taken over the years. He took a junior official visit and an unofficial visit in late August for the GT football game. He capped his visits with Clemson with his senior official visit last weekend.
"This one was more of a laid back visit," Hall said. "I got to hang out with the team a whole lot, went out and made it feel like I was an actual student. I went to a few practices, nothing really that I hadn't seen before. It definitely was a good visit."
Clemson is the lone state school involved with Hall and is the closest to him in terms of distance. Tiger head coach Brad Brownell has used the "stay in state" argument in conversations with Hall, and he drove that home again over the weekend.
"The same message about the hometown hero, and it's close to home, but not too close," Hall said. "Just saying that me coming there would fit with the system. Same things he's already said to me; I come there and it's a 40-year decision, not a 4, and the people would love me."
Hall took a junior official visit to UF, where his sister is a volleyball player, and will return for his senior official visit this weekend. He will visit VT on Oct. 11 and Tennessee the following weekend. His last visit will be to GT the first weekend in November.
Ja'Von Benson, a 6-8 player from Ridge View High in Columbia, took his official visit to USC over the weekend. He has also taken an official visit to College of Charleston and is also looking at Indiana State.
USC 6-10 target Cliff Omoruyi of Rochelle, N.J., took an official visit to Auburn over the weekend.
USC coaches visited with 6-5 Earl Timberlake of Hyattsville, Md., recently, according to John Whittle of TheBigSpur. Head coaches from Providence and Miami also were in last week according to reports.
Timberlake took an official visit to Miami over the weekend. He also has taken official visits to USC, Providence and Pittsburgh. He is scheduled for Seton Hall this weekend, and he also plans a visit to North Carolina.
Clemson 6-9 target Keon Ambrose-Hylton of Willoughby, Ohio, visited Dayton earlier in the month. He said he's still considering Clemson and hopes to visit soon.
"They have me as their No. 1 priority," Hylton said. "They are excited to be part of the journey and will be coming to visit me soon on campus."
Hylton also has Arkansas, Arizona State, California, Dayton, UF, Illinois, Saint Louis, Virginia Commonwealth and VT on his short list.
RJ Ogom, a 6-8 player from Homewood, ll., recently took an official visit to College of Charleston.
Charleston Southern had an in-home visit with 6-7 Raekwon Horton of Keenan High in Columbia. UNC Wilmington was by the school last week and Charlotte was scheduled to visit as well.
The USC women made the top five with 5-11 point guard Treasure Hunt of Chattanooga, Tenn. The others are Mississippi State, Baylor, UK and Auburn.
Tyler Rice, a '21 PG from Ridge View, was a target of coaches last week. Clemson was one of the first programs in on Monday to watch the open gym. Rice has offers from Penn State, Elon and USC Upstate but Clemson is showing strong interest.
"They are just saying they are going to keep in touch, and we're going to grow the relationship," Rice said. "They are going to keep coming down to see me and Benson, and hopefully I can get down there for a visit sometime. I haven't been on a visit but I have been to their campus, and I think they have a top tier campus, and I love the way it's structured. I've seen some of their facilities, and it's just nice. I think those type facilities will help me get to where I want to go.
"I saw them play when they played The Citadel, where my brother plays, and I thought it was a very interesting style of play. I liked it." Rice said Western Carolina and Charleston were in on Tuesday and USC was in later in the week. He took an unofficial to USC on Saturday.
"I hear from them very often," he said. "We keep up a lot. I've already been on multiple visits there, and the relationship is very strong with the coaches. In the near future, that will be a very good team to keep in consideration."
Rice said he's also hearing from Harvard, Columbia, Appalachian State, where he recently visited, Georgia State, Chattanooga, Cincinnati and Charlotte.
John Butler Jr., a '21 7-0 player from Christ Church in Greenville, made an unofficial visit to USC on Thursday with his father and head coach, John Butler Sr. The elder Butler said they toured the facilities and campus and met with USC head coach Frank Martin.
USC has not offered, but will recruit him. Clemson has offered and was in to check on him. He visited Clemson for the GT football game. He also recently visited Florida State.
Bryce McGowens, a '21 guard, is headed back to Wren High in Piedmont from Lincoln Academy in Winston-Salem, N.C., because Lincoln is shutting down. He took an unofficial visit to USC recently.
USC offered '22 6-1 PG Brian Edwards of Knoxville, Tenn. He also has offers from UF and Auburn.
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