Georgia and South Carolina is quietly becoming one of the best rivalries in the SEC. Not just because of some of the on-field success the two teams have shared over the last five-to-10 years or so, but because it extends to the world of recruiting. The two schools located in neighboring states, as to be expected, recruit multiple prospects who are considering both schools.
Georgia occasionally will dip in to South Carolina to land a big prospect but South Carolina has made it a habit of heading over to the Peach State to look for the next great Gamecock. In fact, South Carolina has 27 players on its roster from the state of Georgia.
When the Gamecocks take on Georgia at home this weekend, South Carolina will host three recruits on unofficial visits who are ranked in the top 50 of their respective classes: Roquan Smith (2015), Isaac Nauta (2016) and Mecole Hardman (2016).
Smith, who is the No. 26-ranked player in the ESPN 300, at one point had South Carolina near the top of his list, but the Gamecocks have since fallen back. The four-star linebacker said he can understand why so many Georgia players are interested in playing for the Gamecocks.
“South Carolina isn’t too far from here at all,” Smith said. "Georgia was down on defense for a little while so guys here didn’t care about leaving. South Carolina has had guys like Jadeveon Clowney and guys like that — they’ve had good defenses. They were one of my top schools in the beginning.”
The Gamecocks are hoping with an impressive performance this Saturday they can climb back in to the picture for the No. 2-ranked outside linebacker in the country.
Five that got away
Here’s a closer look at five current players that both schools, at one point, recruited but eventually all of them left to go out of state.
RB Mike Davis (South Carolina) -- The Stone Mountain, Georgia native has had tremendous success so far at South Carolina and is one of the top backs in the SEC.
S Chaz Elder (South Carolina) -- Elder started six games as a true freshman and totaled 29 tackles. He has six tackles through two games this season.
WR Jonathon Rumph, (Georgia) -- Rumph, a Cayce, South Carolina native, hasn’t had much success at Georgia. However, he was the No. 1-ranked junior college receiver when he signed with Georgia two recruiting classes ago.
DT Kelsey Griffin (South Carolina) -- A Buford, Georgia native played in nine games as a true freshman and has played in both games this year. The four-star defensive lineman was South Carolina’s highest rated recruit in the 2013 class.
QB Jacob Park (Georgia) -- The big-armed quarterback from Goose Creek, South Carolina, redshirted last year and hasn’t played this season.
Looking to the future
The state of Georgia is once again loaded and will be loaded for the 2016 class as well. The Gamecocks are once again looking to Georgia for future recruits. Here’s a list of prospects that are either committed to South Carolina or showing considerable interest in the Gamecocks already.
DE Arden Key (committed) -- The Lithonia, Georgia prospect at one point decommitted from South Carolina before making another pledge back to the Gamecocks. He’s the No. 8-ranked defensive end in the ESPN 300.
WR Dexter Neal -- The four-star wide receiver is from the same high school (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson) as current South Carolina running back Mike Davis.
TE Isaac Nauta -- This top 50 recruit for 2016 will take an unofficial visit to South Carolina this weekend. Nauta plays for Buford (Ga.) HS, one of the top programs in the country.
ATH Mecole Hardman -- The No. 16-ranked player in the ESPN Junior 300 will also take an unofficial visit to South Carolina this weekend. The Gamecocks have a chance to make an early impression on the Elberton, Georgia native.
ATH Kyle Davis (committed) -- The ESPN Junior 300 member is one of two commits for South Carolina’s 2016 class. The product of Lawrenceville, Georgia is the 211th-ranked prospect for next year.