LaMarius Benson (6-foot-3-inch, 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 South Carolina 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, DL Darnell Jefferies, also is a USC target but he said his decision would not influence what Jefferies ultimately decides. He and Jefferies visited Clemson on Saturday. Jefferies also as offers from Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Auburn, Notre Dame and others.
WR 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," Harris said. "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, N.C. 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 DE 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 got 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."
Heavily recruited DE KJ Henry of Clemmons, N.C., made visits to Clemson and Alabama the end of last week. Clemson has long been one of Henry's favorites. Henry had grown close with former Clemson defensive line coaches Dan Brooks and Marion Hobby and now he's getting closer with new coach Todd Bates. He has also been to USC and has developed a tight feeling with Will Muschamp.
Henry also plans to get to USC for a visit possibly during spring practice. The Tigers and Gamecocks also appear to be in good shape to get official visits from him.
Gaffney WR Dennis Smith was offered Friday by Indiana. He also has USC and Clemson offers.
USC recently became the first to offer 2019 OL Michael Tarquin (6-4, 272) of Ocala, Florida, at last month's junior day and that has put the Gamecocks at the top of his early list. Tarquin also has visited Clemson, Michigan State, Florida and South Florida. He has visits coming up to Miami, Auburn and Florida State.
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. 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 LB Channing Tindall landed offers from Notre Dame and LSU last week. His other Power 5 offers are USC, N.C. 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.
Tindall 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.
LB Rosendo Louis of Deerfield Beach, Florida, has visited USC in the past and plans another visit later this month to watch a spring practice. Louis said Miami, Ole Miss and Arkansas are other offers he's considering right now. He's also visited Miami. He also has offers from LSU, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia and N.C. State. He plans a decision this summer.
DB Israel Mukuamu, formerly of Berkeley and now of Bossier City, Louisiana, has a USC offer and continues to hear from the Gamecocks. Mukuamu can play any of the positions in the secondary but said USC liked him as a safety. Mukuamu has been to Mississippi State and Oklahoma State for junior days. He's also getting interest from Wake Forest, Purdue, Indiana, Tulane, Iowa State and Louisiana-Lafayette. He visited Tulane over the weekend and has trips coming up to Lafayette, Indiana and Purdue. He does not have a leader and is looking at making a commitment in late summer just before his season or early in his season. His offers are USC, Tulane, Wake Forest, UTSA, Coastal Carolina and Charlotte.
Duke is the latest offer for Chapin OL and state heavyweight wrestling champion Hank Manos. He also has offers from USC, N.C. State, Wake Forest, East Carolina, Coastal Carolina and Georgia State and is getting interest from Clemson. Manos took in a USC spring practice before the Gamecocks went on spring break and he also took a visit to N.C. State recently. Manos said he hears a lot from USC, practically every day, with Will Muschamp and Eric Wolford making the contacts. Manos said he will return to USC to watch spring practice once they get back on the field. Manos was invited to Clemson's junior day but had already committed to go to Duke. The Tigers have not offered yet as they try to manage their numbers for the 2018 class. Manos said he'd like to make his decision by the start of his senior season. He does not have favorites at this point.
QB Cordel Littlejohn (6-4, 185) of Roswell, Georgia, attended USC's junior day last month. The Gamecocks have not offered but quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper is interested enough that he plans to evaluate Littlejohn moving forward. Last season Littlejohn passed for 3,655 yards and 50 touchdowns. He also is looking at Louisville, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Miami of Ohio. He also has visited Tennessee, Mississippi State and Georgia State and has visits coming up to Louisville and N.C. State.
DB Jaycee Horn of Alpharetta, Georgia, has USC in his top 15 along with Georgia, Ohio State, Mississippi State, Missouri, West Virginia, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Auburn, Tennessee, LSU, Florida, Alabama, Ole Miss and Louisville.
USC target OL Casey Holman of Snellville, Georgia, committed to Duke.
USC offered 2019 WR Kendrell Scurry of Thompson's Station, Tennessee, who is currently committed to Tennessee. Scurry issued a tweet saying that while he's still committed to the Vols, he feels the need to consider more options and thus has not shut down his recruiting.
RB TJ Pledger of IMG Academy announced a top eight of Clemson, Georgia, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee and UCLA.
PK BT Potter of South Pointe is the state's top kicker in the 2018 class and if things go well for him this summer, there's a strong likelihood he will be at Clemson in another year. Potter was at the Tigers' junior day and got some encouraging news from the staff. Potter said if he decides to go to Clemson, he would walk-on as a freshman and would go on scholarship in the following January. He's also hearing some from USC, Wake Forest, Oklahoma, Indiana, Cal and Wisconsin. His lone offer is from Mercer.
OL targets Jamaree Salyer of Atlanta and Max Wray of Franklin, Tennessee, visited Clemson on Friday. Wray decommitted from Georgia last week.
OL Jalil Irvin of Stone Mountain, Georgia, committed to Auburn. He had Clemson on his short list.