By John Zenor/The Associated Press
College coaches have descended on Rock Hill, S.C., all with a common purpose: to woo defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
They’ve also been making the rounds all over the South from Hyattsville, Md., to Tampa, Fla., mining the talent-rich region for elite players and potential gems alike.
Clowney, a defensive end at Rock Hill’s South Pointe High, is widely regarded as one of the top senior prospects in the country, if not the best. He headlines The Associated Press South Region 25 list of top recruits.
With all that attention, Clowney is trying to keep his focus on the field.
“This is not about my recruiting,” he said, “it’s about my team winning a state championship this year.”
The list is hardly just for the glamour positions. It’s heavy on defensive (five) and offensive (four) linemen.
It includes as many tight ends (two) as running backs, receivers and defensive backs. The only quarterback to make the cut was Jeff Driskel of Hagerty High School in Oveido, Fla., a Florida Gators commitment.
There are three players listed as athletes — A.C. Leonard, Malcolm Mitchell and Quan Bray — who are coveted even if it’s not clear at which position they might land.
Big, athletic defensive linemen who can hound quarterbacks and stuff the run are at a premium, including the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Clowney.
The even bigger guys who are adept at stopping them are also golden for schools, like LSU-bound offensive tackle La’El Collins of Baton Rouge, La.
Many of the prospects are still weighing their college options but others have already given their nonbinding pledge to a school. Florida and Florida State have landed commitments from three apiece, while two each have announced plans to attend LSU and Clemson.
Some of the top talents include a pair of linebackers from Florida and south Georgia, James Wilder (a Florida State commitment) and Ray Drew. Other top big men include defensive tackle Anthony Johnson (LSU) and offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio of Hyattsville, Md., who is uncommitted.
Besides Driskel, the playmaking offensive stars include running backs Mike Bellamy (Punta Gorda, Fla.) and Isaiah Crowell (Columbus, Ga.), along with receiver Sammy Watkins (South Fort Myers, Fla.).
Other prospects on the South Region 25 list of top recruits:
Stephone Anthony, LB, Wadesboro, N.C.; Hasean Clinton-Dix, Dr. Phillips HS, Orlando, Fla.; Curtis Grant, LB, Hermitage HS, Richmond, Va.; Bobby Hart, OT, St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Tim Jernigan, DL, Columbia HS, Lake City, Fla. Nick O’Leary, TE, Dwyer HS.
Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; Jeoffrey Pagan, DE, 6-3, 260, Asheville (N.C.) HS; Charone Peake, WR, Dorman HS, Spartanburg, S.C.; Antonio Richardson, OL, Ensworth HS, Nashville, Tenn.; Jay Rome, TE, Valdosta (Ga.) HS. Tony Steward, LB, 6-1, 225, Menendez HS, St. Augustine, Fla.; Karlos Williams, DB, 6-2, 210, Ridge Community HS, Davenport, Fla.
AP Sports Writer Pete Iacobelli in Rock Hill, S.C., contributed to this report.