Elite 4-star defensive back puts South Carolina football on list of top schools

South Carolina football made the top-11 for elite cornerback prospect Samari Matthews (4-star, class of 2026).
South Carolina football helmet
South Carolina football helmet / Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Most of the recruiting news that comes out in the summer leading up to a college football season is about the next cycle. In fact, just in June, the South Carolina football program had 11 players pledge their services to the Gamecocks from the class of 2025.

However, that doesn't mean that important work in future classes hasn't been happening.

The Gamecocks currently have two commitments in the class of 2026 (offensive lineman Anthony Baxter and linebacker Rodney Colton), and there have been several other players in the '26 cycle who have taken important unofficial visits and/or started trimming their list of schools down as they get closer to making their own college decisions.

On Monday, a 4-star defensive back in the class cut his list of top schools down to 11, and as expected, USC made the cut.

4-star corner Samari "Smoke" Matthews put the South Carolina Gamecocks, Clemson Tigers, Florida State Seminoles, North Carolina Tar Heels, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio State Buckeys, Oregon Ducks, Penn State Nittany Lions, Tennessee Volunteers, and Virginia Tech Hokies on his list.

Matthews, a native of Hunterville, North Carolina, is a consensus 4-star prospect already and is in 5-star range according to Rivals' recruiting rankings (he is ranked 24th overall nationally). As one might would expect for a player from North Carolina, Matthews' top interests have appeared to be the schools from the Carolinas.

As a player, Matthews has the chance to be a star. An elite athlete, Matthews also has solid size for the cornerback position. He is listed at 6'0" and 180 pounds with two more years of high school remaining.

He has good instincts for the ball on film, and he is comfortable playing in any type of coverage (though, he is most often in man on the outside on his film). Matthews also doesn't mind stepping up in run support as he has plenty of tackles on his tape.

When the ball is in the air, Matthews is sure to make a play, either knocking the ball away or securing it for an interception. If the offense is so unfortunate as to throw the ball to Matthews, he is dangerous as a returner, as well.

You can watch some of his film here.

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