Chris Bonds, the 6-foot-4, 275-pound four-star defensive end from Richland Northeast High School in Columbia, S.C., already has seven scholarship offers: Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Miami, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Tennessee. He says he favors the Gamecocks and USC solidly over Michigan, Miami, Georgia and LSU.
"South Carolina is only 45 minutes away," Bonds said. "But if you're doing 90, I can get there in 30 minutes."
The Gamecocks offered Bonds before anyone else when he was a sophomore. "The thing that stands out about South Carolina are the coaches," he said. "They are phenomenal. I love the defensive line coach (Brad Lawing). He's great, but the program is still in the rebuilding phase and it'll take a while for them to get to where they should be."
While Bonds is a fan of the Gamecocks, he says he's been less than impressed with some of the recent press they've been receiving. "It just seems like the program is suffering a bit," Bonds admitted. "Some of their players seem to be making bad decisions and they've been getting a lot of bad publicity. It's too bad and I'm sure it's not the coaches' fault."
Bonds says he didn't really grow up following a specific school, but admits he has always liked South Carolina and USC. "My parents got divorced when I was a kid and my step dad was a big Gamecocks fan, so I started watching them too.
"Recently, I've really liked USC," he said. "I really liked Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart when they played there."
Bonds has family in California (his aunt and uncle live in San Diego) and he actually attended the Rose Bowl game earlier this year. "My aunt and uncle got me tickets to the game for Christmas," he said. "I loved it. It was a lot of fun and I'm a big fan of coach Pete Carroll. He's like an offensive genius. They came out kind of flat in the first half, but they made adjustments and dominated (Illinois) in the second half.
"I'm on their web site all the time and I love all the great players they've produced," Bonds said. "Right now I'm debating staying close and going to a school like South Carolina or getting away and going to USC."
Although the two "SC's" are Bonds' solid favorites, don't expect any quick resolutions here. "I'm hoping to commit toward the end of my season, probably sometime in November. That way I can get all the hate mail stuff before Signing Day," Bonds joked.
"I'm a pretty laid-back dude and don't have any enemies, but I've heard some crazy stories about fans getting angry at recruits for not choosing their school. People are really into the whole recruiting thing, but I'm still getting a feel for it and just trying to send film to everybody and give everyone a chance."
Bonds already attended the Georgia Junior Day and will be going to the Tennessee Junior Day on March 1. "I really like the academic support at Georgia," he said. "They have a great sports medicine program and a really good medical support staff for the football team. They really help keep you in great shape."
The Bulldogs haven't offered Bonds yet, but he's confident they will. "Coach Mark Richt told me that he thinks I have a great physique for a defensive end and that if I wanted to go there it's a 'done deal'."
Another SEC school that Bonds hopes to visit and get an offer from is LSU. "They are the national champs and I like the SEC a lot," he admitted. "They play against all the best teams and it's always a dog fight every week. The only thing about LSU is that the weather down there does get a bit rough."
Weather is actually a reason why he sees Michigan as a long shot. "I like their tradition and history," he said. "But I'm not sure if I want to go up north. It gets really cold there."
Bonds doesn't have any combines or camps planned for the spring or summer yet, but another school he hopes to get a chance to visit is Miami. "As a whole I think Miami is doing good," he said. "Florida has some of the best talent in the country and all the best high school programs are in Florida, so Miami has a lot of great players coming in. They also have great tradition, especially on the d-line."
Although Bonds doesn't know his stats from his junior season, he says he can bench 325-pounds, squat 425-pounds and can jump 34-inches. "My coaches keep track of my stats and stuff like that," he said. "I don't follow that stuff.
"I guess I'm aggressive off the corner and I'm used to pass rush too," he said. "I also drop back in coverage a lot and I'm just very versatile.
"My overall speed (4.8 forty) needs work," he admitted. "I'm a big guy, but need to improve my agility and cut quicker. I work out Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and do a lot of bungee and parachutes to work on speed. I'm also focused on improving my upper body strength and try to mix things up by getting new drills from my coaches. I like doing the cone drills too."
Bonds reports a 3.2 core GPA and a 1580 SAT, which he is retaking in March.