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How Will Muschamp’s success at South Carolina affects Florida; Gamecocks add another official visitor for June

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Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

Division rivals

South Carolina Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp could become a thorn in the side of his former employer, Florida, according to Gridiron Now’s Ryan Green.

“Will Muschamp and South Carolina beat Florida in 2017,” Green wrote. “Will Muschamp and South Carolina are currently outrecruiting Florida for the Class of 2019, and if Will Muschamp and South Carolina were to beat Florida in 2018, it would be another reminder that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”

In four seasons with the Gators, Muschamp posted a 28-21 record. In his first two years in Columbia, the Georgia graduate has led the Gamecocks to a 15-11 record, including the program’s seventh-ever 9-win season in 2017.

Guest list

Four-star athlete and 2019 prospect J.R. Walker plans to take an official visit to South Carolina the first weekend in JuneSportsTalkSC’s Phil Kornblut reports.

The Gamecocks are “like close together, really tight” with North Carolina State for the 6-foot-1, 205-pound athlete, according to Walker himself.

He’s rated as the No. 298 overall prospect for 2019, per the 247Sports composite.

‘Right here in Anderson’

Muschamp spoke at an Anderson Gamecock Club meeting on Wednesday night.

“Some of the best football in our state is played right here in Anderson [at] T.L. Hanna and coach Jeff Herron has done a fantastic job. I’ve known him forever. And Scott Earley and the job he does over at Westside,” Muschamp said.

T.L. Hanna is home to 5-star defensive end and 2019 prospect Zacch Pickens.

Pickens, one of the Gamecocks’ top recruiting targets, is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in South Carolina and No. 13 prospect overall for 2019, according to the 247Sports composite.

Standing out

ESPN’s Alex Scarborough picked guard Sadarius Hutcherson as South Carolina’s breakout player from spring practice, Ben Breiner of The State reports.

“With Jake Bentley at quarterback and Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards at receiver, the Gamecocks’ passing game has a chance to be special,” Scarborough wrote. “But it needs protection, and it might have found a key in that respect in former defensive line recruit and current offensive tackle standout Hutcherson, who was one of two offensive players of the spring.”

The former Huntingdon (Tenn.) High School standout was rated as the No. 63 strongside defensive end by the 247Sports composite when he signed with the Gamecocks out of high school in 2016.

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Summer grind

Class of 2020 offensive lineman Seth Williams is hoping for an offer from South Carolina when he attends camp in Columbia later this summer.

“Just keep working, and I think this summer will be big for me,” Williams said of South Carolina offensive line coach Eric Wolford’s message. “I feel like, if I do really good, though, he’ll offer me at the camp.”

The Statesville, N.C., native already lists offers from Charlotte and Virginia.

‘Breaks my soul’

When meeting with reporters on Wednesday, South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin was candid about former point guard Rakym Felder.

“It breaks my soul that he’s not going to play for us, but I’m very clear with all my guys, not just the one that made mistakes, on a daily basis, what’s expected of them on a daily basis. … He’s a great kid. He’s got a great heart,” Martin said. “Decision-making, when he’s got free time, is a problem for him and he made some poor decisions that put me in a spot where I couldn’t trust him moving forward.”

Felder signed with New Mexico Junior College on May 7.

Great debate

In the Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James debate, Martin makes the case for the former.

“Can you imagine if Jordan had played the way the NBA is today, with a bunch of 6-foot-6 guys at center, can you imagine that?” Martin said. “Everyone wants to talk about fouling. Jordan had to go finish at the rim over the best group of bigs that have ever played our game, in his era: Patrick Ewing, Hakeem [Olajuwon], Dikembe [Mutombo] — he had to go finish at the rim over all those guys.”

The South Carolina coach continued on to add Wilt Chamberlain’s name to conversation.

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Daniel Sweeney – SEC Country

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Former Clemson DT picks South Carolina; 4-star CB sets official visit with Gamecocks

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Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

Switching sides

Former Clemson defensive tackle Josh Belk is joining the South Carolina Gamecocks, he announced on Friday.

“I am thankful for the opportunity I had at Clemson University,” Belk tweeted on Friday night. “I am most thankful to the University of South Carolina coaches, staff and players for welcoming me into their program with open arms and allowing me the opportunity to play college football at the highest level of competition while being closer to my family.”

The former 4-star 2018 prospect enrolled at Clemson in January, before Tigers coach Dabo Swinney granted him a full release in May.

Dropping by

After picking South Carolina as his transfer destination, Belk greeted his future Gamecocks teammates in Columbia, S.C., on Saturday.

Prior to signing with the Tigers in December, the Richburg, S.C., native was rated as the No. 102 overall prospect and No. 2 player in South Carolina for 2018, according to the 247Sports composite.

It’s official

Four-star cornerback and 2019 prospect Chris Steele confirmed on Friday afternoon that he plans to take an official visit to see South Carolina this weekend.

The 247Sports composite ranks the 6-foot-1, 188-pound cornerback as the No. 39 overall prospect and No. 4 cornerback for 2019.

‘It was really good’

Three-star quarterback and 2020 prospect Luke Doty was among those on campus last week for the Will Muschamp Football Camp.

“It was really fun. It was really good. The coaching environment and everybody there was amazing,” Doty said. “[South Carolina quarterbacks coach Dan] Werner was great. I spent most of my time with him. We started the camp and did a couple of drills. He kind of followed me around throughout the whole thing, then we ate lunch and went into position stuff.”

The Myrtle Beach (S.C.) High School quarterback is rated as the No. 6 prospect in the Palmetto State for 2020, according to 247Sports.

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Rubber match

The South Carolina baseball team bounced back from a 9-3 loss to Arkansas earlier in the weekend to top the Razorbacks 8-5 on Sunday afternoon to force a Game 3 on Monday.

With a win Monday night, South Carolina would earn its first College World Series berth since 2012.

Ain’t life grand

With his team leading 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Gamecocks infielder LT Tolbert’s grand slam gave South Carolina some much-needed run insurance.

The home run was Tolbert’s eighth of the year.

Hunter Taylor, the Gamecocks next batter, followed Tolbert’s blast with a solo shot, putting South Carolina up 7-1 going into the sixth.

High praise

Former South Carolina standout and Houston Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was chosen as the No. 32 player in the NFL Network’s annual NFL Top 100 on Sunday.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft posted career highs in total tackles (59) and sacks (9½) in 2017.

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Daniel Sweeney – SEC Country

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South Carolina to host another official visitor; Gamecocks commits arrive at Muschamp Camp

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Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

It’s official

Three-star cornerback and 2019 prospect Johnny Dixon announced on Tuesday that he plans to return to Columbia for an official visit with the South Carolina Gamecocks on Friday, June 15.

“I’m taking [official visits] earlier, to make a decision,” Dixon told SEC Country.

The Tampa, Fla., native is rated as the No. 366 overall prospect and No. 35 cornerback for 2019, according to the 247Sports composite.

Face time

A number of South Carolina commits were also on campus Wednesday, including 3-star junior college defensive tackle Jahkeem Green.

“Defensive line coach Lance Thompson was at Green’s side throughout the morning portion of camp, before the participants broke for lunch,” McGranahan wrote. “During lunch, Green visited with Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp for a sit-down conversation at the indoor facility office.”

The 247Sports composite tabs the former Sumter (S.C.) High School standout as the No. 1 JUCO defensive tackle for 2019.

Turning heads

Class of 2019 3-star guard Jakai Moore attended the Wednesday session of Will Muschamp Football Camp.

“The No. 15-ranked guard in the Class of 2019 got plenty of attention at camp from offensive line coach Eric Wolford,” SEC Country’s Hale McGranahan wrote. “A handful of schools remain under consideration by Moore, including Penn State, Virginia and Virginia Tech.”

The 6-foot-6, 295-pound offensive lineman lists offers from South Carolina, Penn State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and more.

Offer out

The Gamecocks offered 2020 defensive back Brian Branch after a strong showing at Muschamp Camp.

Branch boasts additional offers from Cincinnati, East Carolina, Louisville, Georgia State and Indiana.

The Tyrone, Ga., native came to camp with PASS trainer Andre Powell. PASS Football Academy is a high school athlete training group based in Atlanta.

Reunited

South Carolina freshman cornerback Israel Mukuamu welcomed younger brother, Emmanuel, to campus.

The younger Mukuamu is a dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2020.

Older brother Israel was a 3-star safety in the 2018 class when he signed with the Gamecocks in December.

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Arriving soon

Four-star quarterback and South Carolina commit Ryan Hilinski will arrive in Columbia on Thursday for an unofficial visit.

Hilinski is expected to try and recruit fellow Southern California native, 5-star CB Chris Steele, to join him at South Carolina. Steele plans to take his official visit to see the Gamecocks this weekend.

Picture this

Could South Carolina fans see wide receivers Bryan Edwards, Deebo Samuel, OrTre Smith and Shi Smith all on the field together this fall? It’s possible…

Edwards was one of the SEC’s best in receptions (64) and receiving yards (793) last season. The Smiths combined for 59 catches for 735 yards and 5 touchdowns as true freshmen in 2017.

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Daniel Sweeney – SEC Country

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Alabama football isn’t too busy to wish happy birthday to 90-year-old practice official

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama football team has a monster schedule this week.

On Tuesday it’s heading to the White House to be honored for winning another national championship. Wednesday features the 10th practice of spring. The annual coaching clinic begins Thursday and will include Doug Pederson, Mike McCarthy and Dana Holgorsen. There’s another practice on Friday and Saturday will be highlighted by a scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

But first, on Monday the Crimson Tide wished happy birthday to long-time practice official Eddie Conyers, who is a bit of a legend around the program.

Conyers, who turned 90 on Monday, has served as an official at Crimson Tide practices since the early 1960s — and that’s not a typo. He started doing so after Paul “Bear” Bryant won his first national championship and has been around ever since.

Alabama football-Crimson Tide football-Eddie Conyers
Alabama had a cake on hand after practice to celebrated Eddie Conyers’ 90th birthday Monday. (UA Athletics/courtesy)

Nick Saban also presented him with a special Alabama jersey after practice. For years the coach has been joking that Conyers only calls penalties against his defensive players and never against the offense.

“I think he’s a double agent,” he said back in 2011. “When he’s out there, they have 12 guys on the field, and that’s what you have to deal with.

“I think everyone likes Eddie. He’s done a great job for us for a long time.”

 

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Christopher Walsh – SEC Country

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Elite quarterback prospect Emory Jones taking official visit to Florida this weekend

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It seems like Dan Mullen isn’t talking long to move on from the Matt Corral news.

Per SEC Country’s Zach Abolverdi, 4-star prospect Emory Jones is in Gainesville this weekend and will be taking his official visit.

Jones is currently an Ohio State commit but he has also been heavily recruited by Alabama. He is the No. 40 overall prospect in the 2018 class, and a higher rated prospect than Corral. Jones is also a dual-threat quarterback and seemingly a much better fit for Dan Mullen’s offense than Corral would have been. Jones is also the No. 4 ranked dual-threat passer in the 2018 class, per the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Florida does not currently have a quarterback commitment in the 2018 class. Jones is also set to sign next week as part of the early signing period. Jones is listed at 6-foot-2 and hails from Heard County, Ga. The Gators rotated between Luke Del Rio, Feleipe Franks and Malik Zaire this year at quarterback.

Jones is just one of the many impressive recruits that are set to be on campus this weekend. Some of the other names per Abolverdi include Ole Miss wide receiver Van Jefferson, 4-star defensive back Trey Dean and 4-star defensive back Brendan Radley-Hines. Radley Hines is the No. 47 prospect in the country.

Mullen has an excellent pedigree of developing quarterbacks, including Alex Smith, Tim Tebow and Dak Prescott as well as current Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. All four of those quarterbacks were just as likely to beat you on the ground as they were with their arms.

The possible addition of Jones would be huge for the Florida class, especially following Corral’s de-commitment. Florida has the No. 32 class in the country as of Friday, which leaves them ninth among SEC teams.

The early signing period begins on Wednesday, Dec. 20 and ends on Friday Dec. 22.

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Connor Riley – SEC Country

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Auburn releases official statement regarding ESPN report about the football program

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Auburn has released a statement responding to ESPN’s report that a former player had an Auburn staff member take a final exam for them.

Below is the full statement, which Auburn again denies the statement.

“The player for which we are conducting an investigation is not a member of the current team and was not a member of the team at the time of the allegation. He is a former player who came back to school to complete his degree. As you know from our statement he categorically denies the claim.

The allegation made in the ESPN story is false based on our review to date. The person making the accusation was a part-time employee placed on administrative leave in late August. She is making claims not supported by facts, and based on what ESPN told us this morning, before the story came out, she keeps changing her story. Neither she, her attorney, nor our investigation have produced anything to support her claims. Neither has ESPN.

It should also be noted that the accuser has signed thirty-eight bi-monthly time sheets during her part-time employment stating that she has no knowledge or has not witnessed or assisted a student-athlete in participating in academic dishonesty. She has also signed compliance forms indicating no knowledge of wrongdoing.

We have no reason to think the allegation about the former student is true.”

Auburn is also involved in controversies involving the softball and men’s basketball program.

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Gatorade issues official statement on Cam Newton following sexist comments

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Earlier in the day, one of Cam Newton‘s sponsors, Dannon, said that it would no longer be working with him following his comments on Wednesday.

Later on in the day, Gatorade, also came out with strong comments against Newton.

“Cam’s comments were objectionable and disrespectful to all women and they do not reflect the values of our brand. Gatorade fully supports women who compete in, report on, coach for, or play any role in sport on or off the field.”

As of this writing Newton has still not apologized for his comments, in which he said it was “funny” that a female reporter was asking him a question about routes.

Newton and the Carolina Panthers return to action on Sunday when they take on the Detroit Lions.

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Connor Riley – SEC Country

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Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: 5-star PG Immanuel Quickley’s advisor recaps official visit

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky basketball hosted a pair of 5-star guards for official visits over the weekend, one of them a Wildcats lean and the other a bit of a long shot, and the two spent some important time together. Point guard Immanuel Quickley (the lean) and Keldon Johnson (the long shot) played pickup and worked out together while on UK’s campus, Quickley’s advisor told SEC Country.

“They definitely hung out together,” Jide Sodipo said. “They went over there by themselves and worked out. They both seem to be gym rats, so they were asking the manager what time they could get into the gym to work out. Immanuel could go to the moon and find a basketball gym so he could work out.”

Sodipo, executive director of Quickley’s AAU team, couldn’t say whether Johnson was swayed by their time together. But Sodipo accompanied Quickley, his mother and grandfather on the trip to Lexington and recapped their visit.

“It went good. That’s not the first time going [Quickley attended Big Blue Madness last October] but the official visit is to get a better feel for the school overall, outside of basketball, the academic part and stuff like that,” Sodipo said. “They asked a lot of questions. The mom, being an educator [high school English teacher], her main thing with Kentucky or any school recruiting him is that aspect: the academic support, the classroom, what kind of major most of the basketball players have, what the plan is for when they travel and get back. Is the scholarship a lifetime scholarship?

“She’s focused on that and she’s asking questions about that. I think she got more than enough information to go with. The plan was after the official visit to sit down — she took a lot of notes — and go over everything. I believe she got most of her questions answered.”

RELATED: Quickley’s advisor says plainly, ‘Kentucky is the leader’

It’s worth noting that UK coach John Calipari offers lifetime scholarships, meaning his many one-and-dones can come back and finish their degrees for free at any time, and the Wildcats have been a top program nationally in Academic Progress Rate since he took over in 2009.

Kentucky has long been considered the favorite (by a wide margin) to land Quickley, a 6-foot-3 Maryland native ranked No. 8 overall and the No. 2 point guard in the Class of 2018 by the 247Sports Composite. Even so, he took an official visit to Kansas on Sept. 1 and was scheduled to visit Miami the following week before Hurricane Irma scuttled that plan.

“Miami is trying to figure it out” and reschedule a trip for Quickley, Sodipo said. “There’s no final decision yet. Basically, we’re going to give everyone like 48 hours and see if something can be worked out. I know he’s going to make a decision before high school basketball starts. He could wake up today and say, ‘I’ve seen everything. I want to make a decision.’ But he might also say, ‘Whether I want to go there or not, I should at least give Miami that [visit]. That’s still up in the air.”

Either way, Quickley’s commitment is not far off and it would be a surprise to see him pick anyone other than the Wildcats — who will host his good friend and potential package-deal partner Zion Williamson for an official visit this weekend.

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Kyle Tucker – SEC Country

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Clemson releases official update regarding kickoff time for Auburn game

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There have been a number of games affected by Hurricane Irma but as of now, the highly anticipated Auburn-Clemson game does not appear to be one of them.

After releasing a statement on Thursday, Clemson followed up with another one on Friday, announcing that there will be no changes to the kickoff time coming today and that it does not expect to make any tomorrow. The game is still scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

The game is one of the most anticipated in a loaded week 2 slate. Auburn comes in ranked No. 13 while Clemson is ranked No. 3.

The game will air on ESPN. Clemson came away victorious in last year’s contest, winning 19-13 at Auburn.

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Connor Riley – SEC Country