South Carolina hosted a handful of transfer candidates over the weekend and the first to go public with a commitment was defensive end Terrell Dawkins from N.C. State.
Dawkins, a 6-4, 235-pound native of Concord, N.C., began his college career with the Wolfpack in 2019, playing in the maximum four games before being redshirted. He led all ACC freshman in 2020 with 4.5 sacks and had 36 tackles. He was named the team’s top rookie.
Dawkins had offseason surgery that kept him out of drills last spring, summer and in the fall. He didn’t rejoin the team until the fourth game of the season. and recorded just six tackles with no sacks. He finished his career in Raleigh with 42 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and five sacks.
Dawkins said his decision to move on from the Wolfpack was largely based on a lack of comfort in their defensive scheme.
“The system is a three-down front, and that’s not something I’m supposed to play,” Dawkins said. “In 2020, I had a solid year for my first year playing. I did pretty good, but overall, that’s not a system I was happy playing in. In talking to the coaches at State, we both understood that I needed to be in a different program so I can really flourish and let my talents flourish.
“I had great conversations with all my coaches at State. They trust and believe that wherever I go would be great. I just took the jump.”
Dawkins looked hard at Florida State and he took a visit to Tallahassee earlier in the week. Then the Gamecocks expressed interest and that started the wheels turning that led to a visit this weekend and his decision to join Shane Beamer’s program.
“South Carolina has always been one of those schools that I wanted to play at,” Dawkins said. “I didn’t pay too much attention to them during the season because I had to worry about my own season.”
“As soon as I got that call from them saying they had interest, they immediately became one of the top schools I was considering.”
Dawkins said his decision was easy after seeing what Beamer was building at USC.
“The main thing for me was the relationships and the environment with the football program,” Dawkins said. “… With this being my second go-around in the recruiting process, I’d already been through it when I was like 16 or 17 and going through all the smoke and mirrors, they were just real with me. I just felt the real love and need that they had in me. And I felt like they really trusted and believed I can make a difference in the program. That was just something I really was looking for during this whole recruiting process.”
The Gamecocks are losing two veteran defensive ends in J.J. Enagbare and Aaron Sterling. Quality backups are returning, including Jordan Burch and Jordan Strachan. Still, Dawkins sees a need for a player like him in the Gamecocks’ defensive front.
“They see me as having an immediate impact,” Dawkins said. “I will get to compete for the number one spot. They see me being that Buck position that they play in that four-down. They know I can be really great and I’m a great fit for that position.”
Dawkins still has some transfer paperwork to complete, and he hopes to be able to start classes at USC by the end of the week. He definitely plans to be on campus for all of the offseason workouts and spring practice. He will have three years of eligibility with the Gamecocks, and he gives them a total of 27 spots in their 2022 class including signees, commitments and transfers that count in the class.
Beamer put out another commitment alert tweet on Saturday, but that player has not yet gone public.
Transfer safety Devonni Reed arrived in Columbia on Jan. 6 for his official visit, and running back Christian Beal-Smith of Wake Forest and wide receiver Antwane Wells of James Madison visited on Jan. 7.
Reed is transferring from Central Michigan. He’s a Detroit native. In 43 games Reed had 287 tackles with three interceptions and 14 pass deflections. He also has offers from Coastal Carolina, Mississippi State, Missouri State, Louisville, Tennessee State, Texas and Colorado.
Smith entered the portal on Jan. 3 as a grad transfer after concluding his Wake Forest career with 1,871 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Tennessee and N.C. State are two others to get involved with the native of Winston-Salem.
Wells is a native of Richmond who entered the portal on Jan. 5. He was one of the best receivers in the FCS this season as a redshirt freshman. He earned second-team All-American honors after catching 83 passes for 1,250 yards and 15 touchdowns. In his two seasons with the Dukes, Wells had 116 catches for 1,853 yards and 21 touchdowns. Wells has offers from Louisville, Auburn, North Carolina, UNLV, Coastal Carolina, ODU, Buffalo, ECU, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State and Miami.
Running back Dante Miller is a transfer from Columbia University and plans to visit USC unofficially this weekend per the Rivals transfer Twitter account. He’s a native of Rockingham. He was first-team All-Ivy League this season rushing for 814 yards and four touchdowns. He rushed for 1,281 yards and six touchdowns in his career. He has picked up offers from Sacramento State, Albany and Samford.
Auburn’s top receiver, Kobe Hudson, is transferring, and USC could become involved. Hudson had 44 catches for 580 yards and four TDs this season.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has a long history with the Turner family of Vestavia Hills, Ala. The father, the late Kevin Turner, was a teammate of Swinney’s at Alabama. The oldest son, Nolan, just finished his career with the Tigers as a standout safety. And now Swinney is pursuing the next Turner in line, wide receiver Cole Turner.
Swinney offered Turner on Jan. 7.
“I have been talking to Coach Swinney a little bit for a few weeks, and every now and then and he has been telling me that he wanted me and was very interested in me,” Turner said. “He told he was really interested in me and to be patient and to see how it plays out.
“(Wide receivers) coach (Tyler) Grisham gave me the call and told me I had the offer, and I was extremely excited.”
Turner, whose only other offer is from Buffalo, had 42 catches for 581 yards and seven receiving touchdowns this past season. He also recorded a punt return for a touchdown, a kickoff return for a touchdown, and had two passing touchdowns (on double passes).
Turner plans to notify the coaches about his plans a few days before National Signing Day (Feb. 2), but he won’t reveal his plans publicly until he signs on that Wednesday.
Clemson offered running back Andrew Paul of Dallas. The Tigers had been waiting on RB Trevor Etienne of Jennings, La., who ended up committing to Florida over the weekend. Paul took an official visit to Colorado last month and is scheduled to visit Clemson on Jan. 21. Washington, Notre Dame, Michigan and TCU also have offered recently and are in the mix.
Clemson offered safetly Kylon Griffin of Montgomery, Ala. He has set an official visit with the Tigers for Jan. 21, the same weekend his teammate, linebacker T.J. Dudley, is scheduled for an official visit. Griffin was committed to Mississippi State but decommitted in December and did not sign early. He also has offers from Southern Cal, Boston College, Tennessee, Coastal Carolina, Southern Miss, Nebraska, UCF and several other Group of Five programs. He also is set for an official visit to Nebraska on Jan. 28. The Tigers, Cornhuskers and Southern Cal are his top three.
Clemson offered defensive tackle Keith Sampson of New Bern, N.C, linebacker Rico Walker of Hickory, N.C., and defensive end Jaquavious Russaw of Troy, Ala. All three players are for the 2023 recruiting class.
Clemson also offered defensive lineman Darron Reed of Columbus, Ga. He also has offers from Miami, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Georgia, Alabama State, LSU, North Carolina, Auburn, Southern Cal, UCF and Michigan State.
USC transfer target linebacker West Weeks took an official visit to Southern Cal last week. Weeks was offered by the Gamecocks last week after a strong freshman season at Virginia. USC also recruited him in high school out of Watkinsville, Ga., where he played for Travis Noland, father of former USC quarterback Zeb Noland.
Calhoun County defensive back R.J. Brunson said he likely will accept a preferred walk-on offer from USC. He will visit the school on Jan. 29. Brunson said he’s a 4.5 student and will earn a good bit of academic scholarship money to defray his costs the first year. Brunson, who also is a standout basketball player, played in the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl and made four tackles at safety.
Coastal Carolina defensive back Shi’heem Watkins, who prepped at Blythewood, has entered the transfer portal after finishing the 2021 season with 32 tackles and two pass deflections.
Former Clemson defensive tackle Darnell Jefferies was offered by Minnesota.
Former Clemson commitment linebacker Jaren Kanak of Hays, Kan., publicly committed to Oklahoma.
Furman added defensive lineman Xavier Stephens, a 6-3, 260-pound athlete from Lehigh. He will have three years of eligibility remaining. Stephens earned playing time in eight games and tallied 16 tackles as a true freshman for Lehigh this past season.
Oceanside Collegiate offensive tackle Monroe Freeling (6-6, 275) has emerged as one of the top prospects in the country for the next recruiting campaign. Already his offer list includes the likes of Clemson, USC, North Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, Duke, Kentucky, Arizona State, Auburn and Virginia.
Eventually, he’ll have his pick of practically every major program in the country. He camped at Clemson last summer and attended home games at both Clemson and South Carolina last season.
“I think now that college football has been flipped, and coaches are in different places now, it kind of feels that it’s restarted in a way,” Freeling said of his recruiting. “I’m looking forward to engaging it in it more. I’ve been waiting for all these coaches to settle down and decide where they want to be for the next couple of years. Now that the majority of it is over with, I’m looking to get out there.”
As for the two in-state programs, Clemson, with its consistency at the head coaching position, has a little bit more of a comfortable feeling for Freeling at this point.
“I’ve grown more of a relationship with Clemson since South Carolina went over with the coaching changes,” Freeling said. “I’ve been in touch with both of them. I’m so close to them, I could easily get up to one of their practices in the spring. I think the other schools deserve a shot, especially since they are so far away. I don’t know a lot about the other program out there, and I know a lot about South Carolina and Clemson right now.”