July 24, 2009

Blue chippers enjoy visit

One of the nation's top defensive linemen as well as a four-star offensive tackle were in Columbia on Thursday and both had a blast during the trip.

Chatham (VA) Hargrave Military DE J.R. Ferguson recently cut his mammoth list of offers to a more manageable number, and USC was one school he wanted to check out again.

"This was my second visit to South Carolina," he started, "but they don't even compare. The first time I came, there were some different coaches here. The new staff is fired up. I enjoyed myself on campus today."

Maryland OL Arie Kouandjio echoed that sentiment.

"We had a great time on our visit and were really impressed," he said.

The four-star lineman talked about what he saw in Columbia.

"I thought the campus was neat with a good college feel to it," he said. "We toured all the football facilities and the weight room really stood out. It even had a new smell to it. I also liked seeing the new academic center being built."

Carolina's coaching staff impressed the 6-foot-6 OL.

"I got to meet with an academic advisor," he said. "I also talked with Coach (Jay) Graham, Coach (Steve) Spurrier, and Coach (Eric) Wolford. I liked talking with all three but Coach Wolford really stood out."

The Gamecocks' impressive new line coach went over the depth chart with the Mid-Atlantic prospect.

"There's a chance for early playing time," he said.

The visit helped South Carolina's cause for Kouandjio.

"It was at least a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10," he said. "I'm still wide open but the visit really helped their chances of getting in my top five."

When GamecockCentral.com talked with the pair, they were together and as such, said many similar things about their visit.

"The weight room was ridiculous," Ferguson confirmed. "I've never seen a weight room with tires and sledge hammers. Coach Fitz (Craig Fitzgerald) was a cool dude. I like how he makes the players go through competitions in the weight room."

The five-star lineman then sat down with the Head Ball Coach and position coach Brad Lawing.

"I like how Coach Lawing is honest to the players he is recruiting and doesn't tell lies," he said. "He was completely honest with me and said that I'd have a chance to compete right away but that there were no guarantees of playing time."

According to Ferguson, that pitch differs from what some other programs are saying.

"Coaches from other schools have said I can come in and start right away but they've never even seen me play," he explained. "Coach Lawing was just straight-forward with me and said that the best players will play."

The Gamecocks have found themselves in better position with the big-time DL as a result of his trip.

"This visit helped SC move up my list," he said.

Trips to Florida, FSU, South Florida, and Miami are now on tap for the two.

The recruiter of record for both prospects is Jay Graham.

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