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Gamecocks’ Top Five Recruits

By Ritch
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Signing the nation's best recruit, the South Carolina Gamecocks ended the 2011 recruiting class with their needs being met.

For any program, that is what you desire in a recruiting cycle to fill your needs and to get what you want. The Gamecocks did both and ended, according to recruiting rankings, with a solid foundation for the future.

The Gamecocks landed the nation’s top recruit in Jadeveon Clowney and just by that final signature it improved the overall ranking of the class. In the rankings the Gamecocks when from 24th to 15th, 20th to 18th on and 13th to 11th on

As mentioned, the class is well-balanced and addresses the areas they need help in to build depth. One area in particular upgraded tremendously with the talent brought in and that is in linemen. Anyone who knows football will tell you that games are won or loss in the trenches.

Having “big nasties” upfront on both sides of the ball is key to success. No matter how good your quarterback is or running back, if they cannot get time or have space then they will fail. On the defensive side, the line is just as crucial as they can stuff a play before it happens.

The Gamecocks landed six additional offensive linemen in the 2011 class and six defensive linemen. This will aid USC going forward as South Carolina has three starters returning to the offensive line, led by center T. J. Johnson and right guard Roekevious Watkins. Defensively, Travian Robertson, All-SEC performer Devon Taylor and Melvin Ingram return up front. As you can see, the need is filled with 12 guys that can be linemen for USC in the near future. This should translate to good things for Coach Spurrier as he has the weapons and now has the linemen.

The Gamecocks also got who they wanted and here are the Top 5 recruits for South Carolina in the 2011 class:

DE Jadeveon Clowney (South Pointe High, Rock Hill, S.C.) Clowney needs no description in what he brings to the team. He is a play-maker and a game-changer. He was the #1 recruit and a true five star performer coming out of high school. Ever opposing quarterback USC faces is now scared.

DT Philip Dukes (Manning High, Manning, S.C.) This guy is the future run-stopper that USC needs to fill the gaps as USC defensive ends Devin Taylor and Jadeveon Clowney make the plays on the edge. At 6-foot-3 and nearly 300 pounds he is a beast to contend with and good things will come from having him as part of the rotation in 2011.

OT Brandon Shell (Goose Creek High, Goose Creek, S.C.) The 6-foot-6, 318-pound Shell is one of the most imposing linemen to join the USC football program in years. Gamecock coach Steve Spurrier believes he could challenge to become the team's starter at left tackle.

DT Kelcy Quarles (Fork Union, Va., Military Academy, Hodges, S.C.) -- A Greenwood, S.C., Quarles enrolled for the spring semester after one year at Fork Union, which should allow him to enter the rotation as a defensive tackle. A Parade All-American out of high school, the son of former Gamecock offensive lineman Buddy Quarles appears to have the strength, speed and temperament to make an immediate impact.

DB Sheldon Royster (St. Peter's Prep, Woodbridge, N.J.) -- Royster has the ability to make an immediate impact at safety. The secondary can use the depth as it struggled against the pass last season.

Barring any key defections or injuries, the Gamecocks should enter the campaign again as the favorite to win the East. The Gamecocks look to defend their SEC East crown in 2011 and bringing in a solid recruiting class like this will put USC in the conversation for future SEC glory for years to come.

Ritch - Ritch is the Editor of Leftover Hot Dog, a blog devoted to Gamecocks Sports. The LOHD site has been giving insight and analysis about Gamecock Athletics with the occasional randomness on other topics since 2005. He covers USC for Southern Pigskin.