Marshall University has had recent success in landing football recruits from South Carolina, where gridiron talent is abundant.
Another Palmetto State prospect in the Class of 2012 crop is on the Thundering Herd radar.
The Conference USA program is one of seven schools that have extended scholarship offers to Mauldin High School offensive lineman Jonathan McLaughlin, a 6-foot-5, 286-pound rising senior who plays left tackle for the Mavericks.
The others are Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, Florida International, Furman, Hampton and Wake Forest.
Clemson, Duke, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech also are interested in McLaughlin, who said he has no leader or top five at the moment.
"Everybody is the same," said McLaughlin, whose lead recruiter from Marshall is tight ends coach Phil Ratliff. "I don't have an order yet."
McLaughlin said he initially wanted to make his decision before his senior season, but he now plans to make it during or after his senior season.
"I might not put together a list of schools," said McLaughlin, who was an All-Greenville County selection last season. "I might go ahead and commit to one school and be done with it."
McLaughlin said he wants to visit Marshall, which has seven South Carolina natives on its roster for the upcoming season -- senior safety Omar Brown (Berkley High School/Moncks Corner), senior defensive tackle Delvin Johnson (Woodruff High School/Woodruff), redshirt freshman wide receiver Isaiah "Jazz" King (Byrnes High School/Duncan), redshirt freshman long snapper James Powers (Myrtle Beach High School/Myrtle Beach), freshman wide receiver Chris Alston (Fairfield Central High School/Winnsboro), freshman wide receiver Conelius Jones (Spartanburg High School/Spartanburg) and freshman safety Evan McKelvey (Berkley High School/Moncks Corner).
"They have a big background down here," he said.
McLaughlin also wants to visit Kentucky, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. He already has been to Clemson and Wake Forest.
Although McLaughlin said he does not have a front runner for his services, the Hokies seem to have an edge over their competitors. Two of his cousins played at Virginia Tech and both of his parents are from Virginia.
Rivals recruiting analyst Keith Niebuhr wrote about McLaughlin in March after watching him at the VTO Sports Elite 100 camp in York, S.C.
"McLaughlin's footwork and technique were solid," Niebuhr wrote, "and he used his long arms well in controlling many challengers."
Niebuhr also noted that McLaughlin was "one of the few offensive linemen to have any sort of success against touted Bamberg-Ehrhardt (S.C.) strongside defensive end Martin Aiken."
His fastest time in the 40-yard dash is 5.2 seconds, but he normally runs it in 5.3 or 5.4 seconds. His fastest time in the shuttle run is 4.7 seconds. He has a 23-inch vertical. He power cleans 265 pounds, bench presses 300 pounds and squats 405 pounds.
"My strength is my quick feet," said McLaughlin, who will be the only returning starter on the Mavericks' offensive line in the fall and, as a result, will have to become more of a leader. "I'm able to get off the ball.
"Another strength is my pass blocking. Also my pulls, my traps and everything like that. I have a good kick-slide. My ability to get back before the defender does is the best part of my game.
"One of my weaknesses is my run blocking," he added. "It's not really a weakness, but I'm working on it and getting better at it. It's not as easy as pass blocking."
McLaughlin, who has a 3.5 grade point average, wants to major in music in college.
"I play drums, piano, bass, everything," he said. "Music has always been a big part of my life."
His father plays the organ at Poplar Springs Baptist Church in Simpsonville, S.C.
"I have been playing with him since I was 2," McLaughlin said. "I have always been around music. I can play by ear. I can pick up anything and play it."
Jacob Messer is the managing editor for HerdNation.com. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. All comments and feedback are welcome.
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