South Notebook: 2011 Talent in South Carolina

After spending three full days and nights in the state of South Carolina and visiting over 10 schools, Scout is ready to name the top junior in the Palmetto State. Will it be talented wideout Charone Peake or state champion Everett Golson? Find out that and more here.

It started in Greenville and that is home to Wade Hampton wide receiver Hakeem Flowers.

This talented playmaker has emerged this summer as one of the top prospects in the state and he brings a lot to the table. He has the size (6-3/180) many schools look for these days in an outside receiver, he has strong hands, and he has good acceleration.

Flowers has double-digit offers.
In 2008 Flowers would get the ball a lot on end-arounds, reverses, and things like that, but he will have a chance to showcase his talents at wideout more this season. He still caught passes and showed his ability down field, but he will get more opportunities to work the sidelines, seams, and opposing secondaries this season.

Other than size and hands, I really like the way Flowers sink his hips when getting in and out of his breaks, how he gets up field with a lot of dancing around when he gets the ball, and just his overall fluidity when changing directions.

Florida State offered first and schools like Auburn, Nebraska, North Carolina, and South Carolina have offered since. He sits with 11 offers at this time.

After spending time with Coach Haltiwanger and his star junior, it was time to see the wideout everyone has been talking about for two years up close and personal.

Dorman star Charone Peake has been mentioned in the same sentence as former Summerville star/current Georgia star A.J. Green numerous times in recent months.

Can he be that good?

It will not be easy, but Peake is working towards being in that elite group. He is built a lot like Green; he is a solid 6-foot-3 and he weighs right around 170 pounds.

Peake favors Clemson and Georgia.
And some of his strengths are similar to Greens; he goes up and gets the jump ball very well, he is good in space, and he has great body control. What Peake can still work on is his route running, catching everything thrown within reach, and playing with a little more intensity.

He has the tools to be an elite wide receiver and that is why he has the impressive offer list early on, but even with his skill level today, he has so much room to improve over the next two seasons as he prepares for college.

South Carolina offered him as a freshman, but Clemson and Georgia who have offered as well lead at this time.

Flowers and Peake are two of the top skill guys in South Carolina's 2011 class and Shaq Anthony is one of the best in the trenches.

Wren is where Anthony plays offensive tackle and I had a chance to watch Anthony go through a scrimmage this week. I watched him closely for about 40-50 snaps and he showed some strengths and some things he needs to work on.

Starting off with what Anthony does best; the first thing that stood out was his feet. He moves well, he has a nice side-kick at left tackle, and he plays very light on his feet for a 6-foot-5, 265 pound offensive lineman.

He also has very good length, he sets a good base, and he keeps good balance.

Anthony tore his meniscus last week and is out for around five weeks.
Anthony can become a dominant lineman if he chooses to. He is a hard worker, so look for him to improve over time, but he needs to get stronger, he needs to work on his initial punch, and he really needs to work on locking his hands in on his opponents. Too many defensive linemen that were not in his league got off his blocks, so he needs to work on locking his hands in, holding his blockings, and finishing his opponents off.

Clemson, Georgia, and South Carolina have already offered the junior, so they see the potential in Anthony like Scout does.

After watching Wren, Lake City was the next stop.

That is home to running back Shon Carson. Not only is Carson a star on the football field at Lake City, but he also is a star on the diamond. He hopes to play both sports on the next level.

A number of schools have already offered Carson and he expects to add many early in the fall when schools can officially offer juniors.

At running back, Carson runs with a lot of power, he runs very low, he gives defenders limited space to hit, and he runs through a lot of tackles. His low center of gravity really makes him hard to bring down and you add his pure strength to that frame and that makes him a punishing running back.

Carson wants to play baseball and football in college.
He has the wiggle and footwork you look for in an elite back as well. He really makes good cuts on a dime, he makes guys miss in the open field, and he runs the ball nicely while staying under control.

There is not much that Carson does not do well. He plays very quick from the time he gets the ball, he shows very good balance, and he is a complete back. One thing he can work on that is important is making sure the ball is in the proper hand. That will cut down the chances of turning the ball over and also give him the opportunity to use the stiff arm more often.

Clemson offered him in camp as an 8th grader according to Carson and he has offers from Tennessee, UCLA, South Carolina, and many others now.

Lake City was the only school to defeat state champion Myrtle Beach in 2008 and that was my next stop.

The Seahawks finished 14-1 in 2008 and they were led by quarterback Everett Golson. He is another two-sport star in South Carolina that hopes to play both football and basketball on the next level.

North Carolina has jumped out to a big lead in recruiting for the talented junior and their combination of football and basketball are big reasons why.

Other than UNC, many other schools have offered the 5-foot-11, 161 pound junior. He will have his pick of well over 20 schools when all is said and done and he hold around seven or eight offers now.

UNC has a substancial lead for Golson.
What do schools like about him? First off it has to be his arm strength. He really has nice velocity on his passes and he gets the ball to his receivers in a hurry. That is definitely not a concern. He also has a smooth and fairly quick release at quarterback which is important when going up against top corners/safeties on the next level.

The spread offense under Coach Wilson that Golson plays in is ideal for him. He is under 6-feet, Coach Golson lines up extra deep in the gun, and he gets rid of the ball quickly, so he hardly ever pressured or touched. He is a smart player that makes quick decisions, he throws with good accuracy, he has great touch on his passes, and he is mobile even though he does not look to tuck the ball and run much.

Size will be a concern though; at least for some programs. He is not six feet tall, he is thin in the hips, and he does not have the frame to add much more than 25-30 pounds. He also needs to work on squaring his shoulders when delivering the football, and he will need to improve his feet when delivering the ball on the next level. After seeing a couple of sub six feet athletes, I got to take a look at someone I project as a national recruit in 6-foot-7, 311 pound offensive tackle Brandon Shell.

Shell is an elite offensive tackle.
Goose Creek is now home to Shell after he transferred into Coach Reedy's program from West Ashley in the off-season. He has been working hard and Coach Reedy (who has coached at both Clemson and Baylor) said he recruited only two linemen on Shell's level when in the college game. Those two OLs were first round picks Leonard Davis of Texas and Alex Barron of Florida State.

Many verbal offers have already been extended and he will be one of the top offensive tackles in the South. He moves well, he has great feet for his size, his biggest strength is pass protection, and he projects as an elite left tackle.

He has raw power, but he can still improve the strength he plays with on Friday nights, he can work run blocking, and he sometimes plays a little too nice.

Shell is the nephew of former NFL offensive lineman and head coach Art Shell.

After taking a look at Shell go through practice, the trip turned back west. The small town of Williston was next and that is home to Dexter Staley.

Staley does a little bit of everything for Coach Garrick at Williston-Elko. Watching one game tape from his sophomore season showed him running the ball out of the backfield, catching passes at wide receiver, blocking a punt, throwing a touchdown pass, and making a big tackle for loss at linebacker.

Staley is a definite top 10 junior in SC.
He can do a lot on the high school level, but he is built to play linebacker in college. He will be rated as an outside backer on

His current size is 6-foot-3, 225 pounds and he can run. He is still raw in technique, but he closes on the ball with great speed, he is a devastating hitter, and he has size that coaches can't coach.

A number of ACC and SEC schools have already made Staley a target and he plans to check out games at Clemson, Georgia, and South Carolina (all three have offered) this fall.

A short trip up to Calhoun County was next. Alshon Jeffrey was the star there a year ago and he is now working hard at South Carolina. His brother Shamir Jeffrey is the next top recruit for Coach Wilson.

Jeffrey is a 6-foot-2, 180 pound wide receiver with a little more quickness than his big brother. He does not run routes like Alshon or catch the ball quite the way his brother did in high school, but the potential is there.

South Carolina has already offered him and he has the Gamecocks on top.

The rain moved Calhoun County inside that day, so Jeffrey could not be evaluated live.

Dixon could play DE or DT in college.
The towns of Chester and Rock Hill have some talent in the 2011 class too. Last season South Pointe sent five-star safety Stephon Gilmore and Devonte Holloman to South Carolina and they have a talented duo to watch in 2011 also.

Jadaveon Clowney and Gerald Dixon play on the defensive line for Coach Carroll and both have early offers. Clowney has been offered by Michigan and Notre Dame along with the in-state schools while Dixon holds an offer from Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks.

Dixon is a 6-foot-2, 235 pound DL that will play both inside and outside for South Pointe this season. He has the frame to grow into a defensive tackle on the next level, but he would like to rush the passer from the defensive end position.

Clowney is a 6-foot-6, 240 pound rush end with explosiveness. He gets off the ball very well, he uses his length to keep offensive lineman off him, and he plays the run better than some would expect. He is up about 25 pounds from a year ago and he is ready to build on that break-out sophomore season.

South Carolina has already offered him and he has the Gamecocks on top.

McNeal goes through his progressions well at QB.
Chester is home to 2010 Clemson commitment Karlon Davis and the top underclassmen there is quarterback Tony McNeal.

He is the lone junior visited on this trip that has yet to pick up an offer. Chester Head Coach Maurice Flowers feels it is only a matter of time. Many schools are showing interest to the 6-foot-2, 170 pound signal caller, so we should know about his first offer early this fall.

On film he shows that he has what it takes to play QB on the next level. Some feel he could be a safety or receiver in college, but he shows the arm, poise, and execution on film to be a quarterback in college.

Throwing the ball outside the pocket, keeping the ball high before passing, and pocket awareness are things that jumped out about McNeal while at Chester. He threw for over 3,700 yards in 2008 and took his team to the state championship game as a sophomore.

2011 is a talented year for QBs in South Carolina and McNeal will be one of the best.

So Who is the Top Junior in South Carolina?

After evaluating film, seeing a number of top juniors in person, and watching some practices recently, Jadaveon Clowney is Scout's number one underclassmen going into the 2009 season.

Clowney will likely be a five-star in 2011.
The talent is rich and as deep as possibly ever on the top side, but Clowney adding that weight and strength in the off-season while maintaining his speed off the edge put him above the other talented juniors at this time.

Will he remain on top when the first stars are given out months from now? Only time will tell. Many talented prospects are chasing that top spot and the explosive end will be pressured by multiple prospects for that top spot between now and 2011 when rankings are final.

Clowney offers a lot at defensive end and the combination of his size, speed, pass rush, run play, game-changing ability, and overall potential put him on top as we get set for the kick-off of the 2009 season.

Photo Gallery: South Carolina Road Trip

Northwestern is home to talented quarterback Justin Worley, defensive end Roderick Byers, and defensive tackle Gerald Dixon, but that stop could not be worked out due to the coaches there being very busy with a two-a-days and scrimmages.

Chad Simmons is the Recruiting Analyst for the South Region and he can be reached at Recommended Stories

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