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January 5, 2011
Was Tuesday Just the Beginning?
ROCK HILL -- As two South Carolina targets became two South Carolina commitments on Tuesday afternoon, the applause rang throughout the room. Family and teammates of Gerald G. Dixon and Gerald Dixon Jr. praised the brothers' choice to be Gamecocks.
It didn't take long for the first follow-up. Congratulations to the Dixons, the question went, but was Tuesday just the beginning?
The Dixons are solid prospects, but the Gamecocks are hoping to reel in two more from Rock Hill over the next month. Roderick Byers attended Tuesday's ceremony with Gerald Jr., receiving a city proclamation honoring his state champion Northwestern High School team, is on USC's list and another player from Gerald G.'s South Pointe High was also honored, although he wasn't present.
Jadeveon Clowney, the nation's top recruit, has been in Florida for the past week practicing for the Under Armour All-America Game. It will be televised on ESPN at 7 p.m. today, although Clowney will not be one of the numerous players who will make his college decision during the broadcast.
No, according to reports, Clowney has spent his time pulverizing his opponent on the line instead of fretting about his college choices. Sources around South Pointe said on Tuesday that Clowney was routinely flying past Cyrus Kouandjio, an offensive tackle from DeMatha Catholic that is ranked by some as the top O-lineman in the country.
South Pointe principal Mike Drummond accepted Tuesday's award on Clowney's behalf, while Northwestern coach Jimmy Wallace praised Clowney and his own quarterback, Justin Worley, as two of the finest players in the country that were adding to the tradition of great Rock Hill football players. The Dixons are two more in that line, and if Byers and Clowney each follow them, USC will have nine players from the area on next year's roster.
So the question had to be asked, especially to Gerald G., Clowney's South Pointe teammate. "Have you begun asking him to make it a package deal?"
"We haven't talked about it yet," the younger Dixon said. "He's going to make his decision whenever he wants to and I'm going to be proud wherever he goes. If he comes with us, I'll be happy, if he don't, I'll still be happy for him."
Byers accepted his award with his teammates, but didn't want to talk too much about the recruiting process on Tuesday. He recently told GamecockCentral.com that his decision is coming shortly, although probably without much hoopla since he doesn't feel the need for a huge ceremony. USC is one of his remaining three schools, and he wants to visit Columbia, Clemson and potentially Oregon.
With Clowney, National Signing Day is in exactly one month, but there's no rule that says he has to commit then. He could take his time and delay the decision for a while, keeping Rock Hill and USC on pins and needles.
It should be an interesting month. Clowney has always had USC in his top five, with many feeling the decision will come down to either the Gamecocks or Alabama. The Crimson Tide may have upped their ante by hiring Chris Rumph, Clowney's primary recruiter at Clemson, recently. Clowney's response was to eliminate Clemson from receiving a visit.
The Dixons, who played with Clowney at the Shrine Bowl and have seen him across the field virtually their entire lives, have spoken with Clowney but not since their decision. They plan to, though.
"We've been working on Clowney," Gerald Jr. said.
There's also the pull of playing with former teammates that could enter Clowney's mind. Stephon Gilmore and DeVonte Holloman, seniors on Clowney's sophomore-year state championship team, are at USC. And while there are plenty of restrictions on coaches and recruiters calling prospects, there's nothing that says friends can't talk to each other.
Tuesday was a grand day for Rock Hill and USC.
But was it only the beginning?
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