South Carolina has another top-20 recruiting class now that the 2013 signing day is over, and while there are no five-star recruits this year, the 2014 class could get the No. 1 player overall if defensive end Da’shawn Hand (Woodbridge) commits to Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks.
The National Junior of the Year according to Rivals.com, the 6-4 245-pound Hand listed his finalists earlier this week. South Carolina was among the five teams he listed, but I think they could be the prohibitive favorite because of one large factor.
Jadeveon Clowney was once the top overall recruit as Hand is, and both play the same position. The freakishly-gifted Clowney will be a rare defensive player to be a Heisman contender in 2013, and a lock to be the top pick in the NFL draft next season. That attention and publicity that South Carolina will receive on a weekly basis next season will keep them in the forefront of the race because Spurrier and his staff will be able to sell Hand on becoming the next Clowney.
Hand could see a little bit of himself in Clowney, and would get a preview of how he would fit in that defense. All recruits are different, but high school players ranked as high as Hand want to go to a program where they feel a bond with the coaching staff and trust that they can get them to the NFL. Some recruits have different priorities and rank them accordingly to their own beliefs, but South Carolina can offer everything to Hand.
South Carolina recently hired defensive line coach Deke Adams from North Carolina, where Hand visited twice. The school was among his finalists earlier in the recruiting process in large part because of Adams.
The process is still early, but I think South Carolina is in the driver’s seat to land the top player in 2014.
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