Offensive lineman LaMarius Benson (6-foot-3, 320 pounds) of Covington, Georgia, has played just one full season on the offensive line but he apparently showed enough promise to receive an offer from USC last month at their junior day as a guard, and Sunday he took the Gamecocks up on their interest by issuing a commitment to head coach Will Muschamp. “He said the commitment made him the happiest he’s been in a long time,” Benson said. “I feel like it’s a perfect school for me. It’s close to home and I like the coaches. It’s perfect for me.” Benson had been a defensive lineman until moving primarily to the offensive last season with spot duty on the defense. And it’s the athletic skills he displayed as a defensive tackle that impressed USC offensive line coach Eric Wolford enough to move on him. “He said I can move for being so big,” Benson said. “I see big things happening, that’s what I see, because of the people they’ve got coming in.” Benson also has offers from Georgia Tech, Maryland, Georgia State, Marshall and Troy. Despite the commitment, Benson said he does not plan to shut down his recruiting and will still visit other schools. Benson’s commitment gives USC three newcomers for the 2018 class.
Benson’s good friend, defensive lineman Darnell Jefferies, also is a USC target but he said his decision would not influence what Jefferies ultimately decides. He and Jefferies visited Clemson Saturday. Jefferies also as offers from Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Auburn, Notre Dame and others.
Wide reciever Jatavious Harris of Milledgeville, Georgia, now has USC at the top of his list ahead of Miami, Tennessee and Georgia. “It had a lot to do with Miami and the commitments that they have. But we’ve (USC WR coach Bryan McClendon) been having a lot of good conversations about football and that I can play early there. He said I would fit in perfect and he’s ready to coach me. I like the program. That’s why I moved them up to my number one out of all my schools.” Harris did not make it to USC’s recent junior day due to a track meet and he plans to get to USC when he doesn’t have a track conflict. He has been to Georgia and Georgia State. Harris also has offers from Florida, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Iowa State, Purdue, Vanderbilt, Oklahoma State, Louisville, NC State, Oregon State, East Carolina and Mississippi State.
The most talked about recruit among Clemson and USC fans for the 2018 class no doubt is defensive end Xavier Thomas of Florence. Thomas, who will play his senior season at IMG Academy, is on record as saying he will pick either Clemson or USC and will announce on Dec. 20. Thomas, for the most part, is being hush-hush about his thinking. He just completed visits to both in-state schools as part of an IMG tour of five schools, so he go a refresher course on both programs. Thomas has not been available for comment but a source who talked with him recently shared some of what Thomas has shared with him: “I’m hearing USC mostly from Xavier. He wants to change the program around. He loves the coaches and players and it’s a family atmosphere there. He grew up a Gamecock fan. He loves everything about Clemson. They just won a national championship. I think the determining factor of where he’ll end up playing is how well USC will play this season.”
Alabama had great success last season with an elusive quarterback in Jalen Hurts and last week the Crimson Tide offered a quarterback of a similar mold in Dakereon Joyner of Fort Dorchester. “I guess so, definitely a dual-threat kinda guy. I’m extremely blessed and thankful. Not many people get this opportunity.” Joyner had planned to visit Oregon this past weekend but that visit will be rescheduled. He’s also looking at visits to Georgia and Auburn in the near future plus a return visit to USC.
Spring Valley linebacker Channing Tindall landed offers from Notre Dame and LSU last week. His other Power 5 offers are USC, NC State, Auburn, Wake Forest, Georgia and Florida while Clemson, Penn State, Purdue, Georgia Tech and Cal are other major programs showing interest. Tindall has had USC at the top of his list for the last month or so and the Gamecocks had him back for a visit in late February for their most recent junior day. “I didn’t get to see the entire practice, but I did see enough to get a feel for Coach Hutzler’s coaching style. I got a chance to sit down with (linebacker) TJ Brunson which was nice. He gave me a lot of insight on the program. I was also able to sit down with Coach Hutzler and Coach Muschamp. They are really treating me like a priority.” He has been to USC and Wake Forest this calendar year and he plans to get to more schools after his track season including Notre Dame.
Heavily recruited defensive end KJ Henry of Clemmons, North Carolina, made visits to Clemson and Alabama the end of last week. Clemson has long been one of Henry’s favorites. “They’ve been hitting me up for the past couple of years and it’s definitely the top program in the country and so I give them the respect they give me as well,” Henry said.