On the Beat: Clemson, USC depend on out-of-state recruiting

November 25, 2016 GMT

CLEMSON — The rivalry is fierce among the fanbase, but it’s something of an acquired taste for Clemson or South Carolina players who aren’t from South Carolina.

About a third of the players on Clemson’s current depth chart – 18 out of 53 – are listed as products of the state of South Carolina. Most the Tigers’ in-state stars are on defense, led by linebackers Ben Boulware and Kendall Joseph, safety Jadar Johnson and cornerback Cordrea Tankersley. Wide receiver Mike Williams represents the offense and kicker Greg Huegel does so for special teams.

As for South Carolina, 10 of 23 offensive players on the preseason two-deep are from within state borders, led by left guard Zack Bailey of Summerville and receivers Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards.

USC’s defense, however, is decidedly out-of-state: defensive end Marquavius Lewis is the only in-state starter, and only two of 23 players on the Gamecocks’ defensive depth chart are from South Carolina. Neither kicker Elliott Fry nor punter Sean Kelly is from the state.

Both teams draw recruits in large numbers from Georgia and Florida, with Clemson honing in on North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland while USC has done well in Alabama and Pennsylvania.

“We have a very small population (in the state) as we all know, and then you throw in the academics, now the pool shrinks even more,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Tuesday. “There’s more people in Atlanta than our whole state.”

In terms of recruiting against each other, Swinney said, “We really don’t compete with South Carolina as much in state as you would think. The reason is, you couldn’t have more differences in the programs, the locations, the environments, you name it, the conferences, whatever.”

Jalen fights back

Clemson defender Jalen Williams’ availability was in question last Saturday at Wake Forest when the cold weather was hindering his knee, and the brace supporting it.

A versatile linebacker and defensive back, Williams played just two snaps vs. the Demon Deacons; he has not logged more than 17 snaps in any of his last four games, following a three-game absence with a sprained knee suffered Sept. 22 at Georgia Tech. He is not listed on Clemson’s injury report.

Injury updates

Cornerback Trayvon Mullen is questionable vs. South Carolina with a foot injury. Defensive tackle Scott Pagano (leg) and cornerback Adrian Baker (knee) are out, and right tackle Jake Fruhmorgen (shoulder, personal reasons) is not expected to play.