At 6:30 p.m. Friday night, Columbia (S.C.) Spring Valley offensive tackle Quintin Richardson will pledge to play his college football at one of three programs that have been major influencers on recruiting in the state of South Carolina during the years.
The 6-foot-4, 270-pounder is down to in-state schools South Carolina and Clemson and long-time Palmetto State talent raider Tennessee.
Richardson has been hinting about an early commitment throughout most of the process. Typically, prospects who commit early tend to go with the school that they are most familiar with. In this case, it would be the hometown Gamecocks. Richardson has been to numerous spring practices and South Carolina's Junior Day event. That, combined with his friendship with current Gamecocks cornerback commit Gary Gray makes South Carolina seem like the favorite at this time.
He is being recruited by Gamecocks recruiting coordinator David Reaves, one of the SEC's top 10 recruiters for the class of 2006 according to Rivals.com. Reaves is one of the best recruiters on South Carolina's staff and is also the recruiter-of-record for Gray.
All of these factors put the hometown team in a strong position today.
Though numerous sources say that there is a better-than-average change that Richardson will announce for the Gamecocks Friday night, there is other information to ponder.
The first obvious thing is that despite its proximity to the South Carolina campus, it's been quite some time since a Spring Valley High standout has gone with the hometown team. Auburn offensive lineman Leon Hart from the class of 2004 was the most recent prospect to reject overtures from the hometown team and head to an out-of-state school. That same year, teammate Mack Frost signed with Maryland despite holding a Gamecock offer. Peter and Michael Boulware (Florida State), Travis Williams (Auburn) and Anthony Davis (Wake Forest) all have headed to out-of-state schools and either have had or are having good (some great) careers.
The last Spring Valley product to sign with South Carolina was wide receiver Willis Ham, who was part of former coach Brad Scott's final recruiting class in 1998. Ham played a few seasons, didn't make much of an impact, and ended up transferring to South Carolina State.
Richardson will decide from among five schools: Tennessee, NC State, Maryland, South Carolina and Clemson. It's become clear that this battle will come down to which in-state program he feels more comfortable at. The 6-foot-4, 270-pounder maintains that neither Clemson or South Carolina has an edge, but the feeling here is that the Gamecocks will take this one. There seems to be a feeling among the top players in Columbia that they can do something special if they all attend South Carolina. Defensive back Gary Gray already committed, and you can bet he's been working on Richardson. Spring Valley standouts have been heading out of town in recent years (Leon Hart to Auburn, Mack Frost to Maryland) but this one won't get away. This is setting up as a huge year for the Gamecocks.
Forecast: South Carolina Confidence Level: Medium -- Rivals.com National Analyst Mike Farrell
Speaking of Scott, that brings us to Clemson, the other in-state contender for Richardson. Scott recruits Spring Valley for the Tigers. When he was the head coach at South Carolina, he lived in the Spring Valley area and remains closely tied to the community. Scott has done a nice job building a relationship with the Richardson family and would be Richardson's position coach if he headed up to Death Valley.
Richardson's last unofficial visit was to Clemson during the weekend where he talked with Willy Korn, a Clemson quarterback commit. Korn is a lock to be the Palmetto State's No. 1 overall prospect when the state rankings are released in June and is one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation in the class of 2007, so he likely made an impact. Also, the fact that Clemson has signed its best recruiting classes of the Tommy Bowden era the past two years and that it is currently working on a multi-million dollar renovation of its stadium can't hurt the Tigers chances. To top it all off, fellow Spring Valley offensive lineman Mason Cloy, who will be at the press conference, is said to be a heavy lean to Clemson.
All things considered, it would not be completely surprising to see Richardson announce for Clemson today.
Every one of today's football prospects grew up pulling for a team. Richardson grew up pulling for the University of Tennessee. When UT won its national championship in 1998, Richardson was 9 or 10-years old. He undoubtedly is aware of the Vols' tradition of taking South Carolina's best prospects. From Shaun Ellis, Albert Haynesworth and Domminique Stevenson to most recently Tony McDaniel, Eric Young and Robert Ayers, Tennessee has been able to recruit the Palmetto State with a great deal of success.
When Richardson visited Knoxville, he came away impressed with the facilities and the stadium and mentioned in several different interviews about the Vols being his childhood favorite.
UT assistants Dan Brooks and John Chavis both have deep ties to the state and know how to get South Carolina prospects to Rocky Top. Just last week, head coach Phillip Fulmer was praising the talent base in the Palmetto State while speaking at the Anderson (S.C.) Touchdown Club. There also are quite a few Volunteer fans that live in South Carolina.
Simply put, UT has deep ties to South Carolina and it would not be one bit surprising to see it emerge here. As recently as Signing Day eve, 2002, it looked like a Tigers-Gamecocks battle for Union (S.C.) offensive lineman Eric Young. Several recruiting networks projected him to join the Gamecocks late that evening.
Young signed with Tennessee.
Please join Rivals.com for complete coverage of the Richardson announcement today. There will be a live commitment special on Rivals Radio starting at 5:40 p.m. EDT featuring guests, analysis, live streaming audio of the press conference, interviews with Richardson and other recruits and your phone calls.