The University of South Carolina football program got a boost for its future defensive line last week with a commitment from defensive tackle Nick Barrett (6-feet-3-inches, 325 pounds) of Goldsboro, N.C. Barrett picked USC over offers from Duke, Mississippi, Penn State, Tennessee, East Carolina, Liberty, Coastal Carolina and Virginia.
He visited USC for the Clemson game in November and returned for a junior day in February. After that, USC head coach Will Muschamp and his assistant coaches made Barrett a primary target and kept up regular contact with him.
USC came up short in pursuit of 4-star offensive tackle Micah Morris of Kingsland, Ga., when he committed to Georgia last week. However, USC moved quickly on another big-time tackle prospect with an offer to Caleb Etienne (6-9, 315) of New Orleans.
Etienne played last season at Fort Scott Junior College in Kansas and will play this season at Butler County JC in Kansas.
Etienne committed to Ole Miss in the summer of '18 but ended up signing with Nichols State the following February. Later in the year he enrolled at Fort Scott where he played the '19 season.
Etienne is rated as a 3-star prospect by 247Sports but is ranked as the No. 1 JC OT in the country. He also has offers from Texas Tech, Arkansas, ECU, Oregon, Houston, Central Florida, Ole Miss, Austin Peay, Illinois State, Hawaii and Arkansas State.
USC is relatively new in the picture with Etienne, and he was happy to hear about the offer.
Etienne talked first with USC offensive line coach Eric Wolford, then he heard from Muschamp. That's when he got the word on the offer.
Etienne has not settled on any favorites at this point and is "weighing out my choices."
A second major USC target in Georgia announced a commitment to UGA. Running back Lovasea Carroll of Warrenton and IMG Academy in Florida, who actually was USC's first commitment for the '21 class, announced his pledge to UGA on Thursday.
Carroll had USC on his short list along with Auburn, Florida and Tennessee. He committed to USC last May and then decommitted on Sept. 1.
One of the top football athletes in the Florida Panhandle is Damarius McGhee (6-0, 160) of Pensacola. He excels at QB, wide receiver and cornerback for Catholic High School.
USC offered McGhee earlier this year and sees him as a defensive player. USC Defensive coordinator and secondary coach Travaris Robinson has been heading up his recruiting and has been joined by defensive assistants Mike Peterson and Kyle Krantz.
McGhee has not yet visited USC. He had planned to come in this spring before recruiting visits were put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, so he's only seen USC from afar. He plans to take an official visit once one can be scheduled. Florida State was the only school he was able to visit before recruiting shut down.
Along with USC, McGhee has offers from Tennessee and Louisville. Those two join USC as his current top three. He also holds offers from Oklahoma, West Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Wake Forest, Illinois and Georgia Tech.
USC is showing interest in linebacker Kameron Olds (6-3, 225) of Richmond, Va. Olds has not been heavily recruited to this point. His only offer is Norfolk State, but he took an unofficial visit to USC on March 1-2 and took in a spring practice. Since then, he's been talking with Krantz and Muschamp. He's optimistic eventually they'll call back with an offer.
Olds also is receiving interest from Temple, Charlotte, Richmond, Duquesne, Delaware, Virginia Tech, Marshall and Kent State.
Tight end Landen King of Humble, Texas, included USC in his final 10. The others are UGA, Alabama, Oregon, Texas, PSU, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Washington and Arizona State.
Four-star LB Greg Penn (6-1, 225) of Dematha High School in Hyattsville, Md., named USC as one of his final six along with A&M, Alabama, Louisiana State, Tennessee and Maryland. Penn visited USC on March 5, giving USC the last visit before the recruiting shutdown.
Some of the schools who had offered and did not make the short list are UF, FSU, UK, Michigan, PSU, Ohio State, Michigan State and Duke.
USC is in the final 11 with defensive end Tariq Robbins of Philadelphia. Also on his short list are Baylor, Iowa State, Tennessee, North Carolina State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Arizona State, UVa, Rutgers, GT and Duke.
USC is in the top 12 with 3-star CB Javon Bullard (5-11, 165) of Milledgeville, Ga. The others on his list are WVU, Auburn, Boston College, NCSU, Vanderbilt, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Stanford, UGA, UCF and Purdue.
WR Troy Stellato of Jacksonville, Fla., has his decision down to Clemson and Ohio State and is now going through the tedious process of deciding between the two national powers.
"I'm the closest with those two schools, mainly my position coaches," Stellato said. "(Clemson assistant) Coach (Tyler) Grisham and I built a really good relationship. And I love (head) Coach (Dabo) Swinney. He's the best. I think he's the best coach in the game right now. And I love (Ohio State head) Coach (Ryan) Day. I love what he did with the program this year at Ohio State. And (assistant) Coach (Brian) Hartline, I'm really close with him. So, relationships are a huge thing.
"And the fits at both schools are really good. At the receiver position at Clemson, I feel like I can come in early and fill a need at the Y position. And Ohio State, I know they're loaded at the position, but I love what Coach Hartline is doing over there."
Jeff Scott offered Stellato when he was the WR coach at Clemson. When Scott departed for the head coaching job at South Florida, Grisham replaced him and assumed point man duties on Stellato.
Clemson's recruiting prowess nationally will be severely tested as it recruits 5-star CB Ga'Quincy McKinstry (6-0, 172) of Pinson, Ala. Alabama and Auburn are all over the homegrown talent, plus his new high school coach is former Alabama and National Football League star DB Sam Shade.
The odds for Clemson winning this recruiting battle appear long, but that doesn't mean Clemson is giving up the fight.
"I talk to (assistant) Coach (Mike) Reed and (assistant) Coach (Todd) Bates the most. They just tell me how they can use me and that I'm a top priority," McKinstry said. "The facilities look good and are new, and the staff is well put together and have been together for a while."
McKinstry has visited Clemson twice, the last visit coming in March of '19. He's also checked out several of his other offers, including Alabama, Auburn and LSU. Alabama received the most recent visit for a junior day in late January.
McKinstry hasn't narrowed his list of over 40 offers to a focus group. He continues to receive offers with some of the most recent being Texas, Oregon State, Oklahoma, Arizona State, Southern California, Louisville, FSU and Ole Miss, which also offered him for basketball.
Four-star QB Christian Veilleux from the Canadian province of Ontario narrowed his list to a final four of Clemson, PSU, Duke and Tennessee. Veilleux visited all four schools before visits were stopped, and he plans return visits to each before making his decision. Veilleux, who attends school in Potomac, Md., is ranked as the No. 15 pro-style QB in the country.
Clemson made the next round of cuts with 5-star CB Tony Grimes (6-0, 180) of Virginia Beach, Va. Grimes announced his top eight as Clemson, UVa, A&M, Ohio State, PSU, North Carolina, UGA and Tennessee. Grimes had planned to get to Clemson in March but wasn't able to make it before visits were stopped. He did visit PSU and UGA during the live period earlier this year.
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