Clemson and South Carolina went head-to-head for one of North Carolina’s top prospects in four-star defensive end Zaire Patterson (6-foot-6, 225 pounds) of Winston-Salem, and the Tigers came out the winners.
Patterson announced his commitment to the Tigers last week. USC seemed to have the upper hand with Patterson during the early phase of his recruiting, with North Carolina a primary competitor.
But Clemson became much more involved after losing the commitment of Korey Foreman, and the Tigers were able to close the deal over the last two weeks. Patterson is ranked as the No. 18 weakside defensive end nationally in the 247Sports Composite, and the No. 16 prospect in North Carolina.
Last season, he had 109 tackles with 27 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, nine forced fumbles and four interceptions.
His coach, DeRon Middleton, says Patterson will arrive at Clemson prepared to help the Tigers as a pass rusher off the edge.
“First is his stature, he’s legitimately 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds now,” Middleton said. “He has a very, very good get-off. He’s got one job. His job is to get sacks, and he’s done that really, really well. He’s long, and he has a knack for getting to the quarterback. First year he had 13 sacks. Last year he had 11 but he also had 4 interceptions. He can do pretty much anything, defensive end or outside linebacker.”
Patterson also plays basketball and because of that he has not been at his optimum football weight which his coach said should be around 250 pounds. And Middleton added that Patterson likely will finish as the No 1 student in his class with an eye on aerospace engineering at Clemson.
He will have no problems picking up the defensive schemes from Brent Venables.
“He’s super smart, and that’s going to help him on the field as well,” Middleton said. “Once you get him in that film room and he understands what you want him to do and how to line up, he’s great at play recognition.”
Patterson also held offers from Oklahoma, Michigan State, LSU, Auburn, Florida State, Louisville, Texas A&M, Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame, Kentucky, Colorado, Tennessee and others.
Patterson gives Clemson 13 commitments for the 2021 class, which head coach Dabo Swinney has said should top out at 18. All but one of the commitments is rated at least a four-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite.
USC last week offered three-star running back Ke’Travion Hargrove (5-foot-11, 185 pounds) of Ruston, Louisiana, and the offer came after some very quick recruiting work.
Hargrove committed last month to his hometown Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, coached by former Gamecock offensive coordinator Skip Holtz. USC recruiter Tracy Rocker and running backs coach Des Kitchings are the ones who made the first contact for the Gamecocks with Hargrove earlier this week.
“I just started talking with them yesterday (Wednesday) I want to say,” Hargrove said. “Somebody texted me on Twitter and was like what’s up, this is so and so and so and so, and I said yeah. After a while, they just called me out of nowhere and offered me today (Thursday). I’m extremely excited. It’s a blessing come true for my first SEC school.
“I’m just excited, really, don’t know what to do. I don’t know what they are trying to do (as a program), but I do know a little bit about South Carolina because I do watch football. I don’t know how they are trying to build it. I don’t know how they work.”
Hargrove rushed for 1,537 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. He also had 17 catches for 460 yards and six touchdowns. Hargrove said Kitchings, and other recruiters, likes the way he can motor.
“He likes my speed,” Hargrove said. “I hear a lot about my speed. I think it’s a surprise how fast I am. What’s a typical 40 speed? I just line up and go. Like a 4.5.”
USC is the only SEC offer at this point for Hargrove, though he said he does hear from LSU, but he has other Power Five offers from Oklahoma State, Baylor, Boston College and Michigan State. Plus, he has Houston and Louisiana offers. He is far from ready to close down his recruiting.
“My recruiting is open, like I’m still listening,” Hargrove said. “La-Tech, they are my hometown team. I visited at La-Tech, it was a prospect day. I’ve already seen their facilities, but I haven’t seen anybody else’s. That’s why I’m still open.”
Hargrove listed his top schools at this point as USC, Louisiana Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Michigan State.
He said he’d like to visit USC and LSU once he can get back on the road. In the 247Sports Composite, Hargrove is ranked the No. 33 running back prospect in the country, and the No. 15 prospect in Louisiana.
Four-star running back Jaylin White (5-foot-11, 185 pounds) of Dothan, Alabama, is a hot target for a number of SEC programs, and others outside the league. He just recently picked up an offer from Florida.