Many players choose to start their athletic journey at the junior college level. Some reasons different than others, but one thing is for sure. JUCO players have become some of the biggest prospects on the map.
South Carolina has 3-star Paris Palmer added to its class of 2015 roster. Palmer stands at 6,8',284 pounds from Plymouth, North Carolina, taking his offensive tackle talents to Lackawanna Community College in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Even though he was not heavily recruited right out of high school, Palmer has received offers from schools across the States since playing JUCO ball, including Arizona State, Baylor, Miami, Missouri, and Ohio State.
Accompanying Palmer is defensive end Devante Covington. The 6-foot-3 North Carolina-native committed to the Gamecocks in April of 2012. He enrolled at Georgia Military Junior College where he had 17 tackles and 1 sack in 2013.
The Gamecocks have extended scholarships towards several JUCO football all-stars in the class of 2015. These athletes have received national attention and multiple university offers.
Lewis stands at 6-foot-4, 270 pounds from Hutchinson Community College. The defensive end is a Columbia-native and was recruited as an outside linebacker out of Greenwood High School. Scout.com Scott Kennedy notes the 5-star's quickness off the ball, size, and speed as his strengths. In 2013, he posted 70 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 6 ½ sacks, and 13 quarterback hurries.
Recruiting Reporter Derek Young expresses Lewis is a natural pass rusher, and South Carolina may be a favorite of this prospect. This DE stand-out has other offers from Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia.
This 4-star middle linebacker has something in common with our last prospect. Lewis and Durant were high school teammates. Not only do these two go back to Columbia, but both seemed to end up in Kansas. The 6'2", 240 South Carolina-native plays for Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas. The two schools are a little over an hour from each other.
Durant is one of the top junior college prospects in the nation. He notes he and Lewis have spoke about attending the same school, but ultimately have to choose what best fits each of them. Both are scheduled to graduate in December. He has labeled South Carolina a winner in the race. The 4-star has offers from schools like Florida State, Georgia, Arizona State, Kansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Illinois, Clemson, Texas A&M, and Kansas.
D. J. Jones
Jones is a 4-star prospect out of East Mississippi Community College, but his roots run in South Carolina. The defensive tackle attended Wren High School in Piedmont, South Carolina. Although standing at 6-foot-2, Scout.com's Scott Kennedy states his height may scare recruiters but it shouldn't. "Jones is immovable by a single blocker once he sets his feet.He has tremendously quick feet giving him an edge off the snap, and it allows him to spin his way out of an offensive lineman's clutches."
Jones helped his team win a NJCAA national championship as a freshman last year bringing in 49 total tackles, including eight for a loss and eight sacks.
This DT has offers from schools like Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Clemson, Florida, USC, Florida State, and Ole Miss.
A defensive tackle from Reform, Alabama, Steele plays for Southwest Mississippi. The 6-foot-5, 300 pound prospect finished second on his team with 49 tackles and four tackles-for-loss. This talented Alabama-native had several offers very early into his freshman season. Thus far, schools like Alabama, Iowa State, Kentucky, South Alabama, and Auburn have extended a scholarship to Steele.
GamecockPride.com and Scout.com will keep you updated on these prospects and more to come.