FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.- Five-star defensive end Carlos Dunlap has made a verbal commitment to the school of his choice, but he's not ready to go public with the information. The North Charleston (S.C.) Fort Dorchester prospect broke down his recruitment in an exclusive interview with Rivals.com on Sunday evening following the first practice sessions for the inaugural Offense-Defense All-American Bowl.
"I have made a commitment to the school I am going to, but I am not wanting to announce where I committed to yet," the nation's top-ranked weakside defensive end prospect said. "So I guess I am still kind of open. I am committed, but still taking visits."
Dunlap is down to three programs, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee. He has been to Carolina officially and will visit Tennessee (Jan. 12) and Florida (Jan. 19) officially following his return from Fort Lauderdale for the bowl game.
"Right now those are the three schools that I am interested in the most," he said.
Dunlap currently has no announcement date scheduled.
"I haven't decided when I am going to announce," he said. "I have a good idea of where I want to go, but haven't decided when I am going to announce."
The 6-foot-6, 255-pounder visited Columbia on the weekend of Dec. 15.
"I enjoyed my trip to South Carolina," he said.
Dunlap was on campus in Gainesville on Nov. 11, when the Gators played host to the Gamecocks. Florida won 17-16 when Jarvis Moss blocked a potential game-winning field goal attempt by Ryan Succop with time running out.
"It was a good, defensive game and shows how much special teams are important," he said. "In that game, it was a lot like the Summerville game we had in the first half. In the second half of South Carolina and Florida, the coaches coached them up to be successful on special teams.'
Dunlap added he could see himself playing a role similar to Moss in certain situations.
"They put me at kick block during the (South Carolina) North-South game," Dunlap said. "I blocked a few."
Dunlap, the highest-rated prospect at the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, is enjoying his time in Fort Lauderdale so far.
"We're having a good time, practicing hard and we have two practices out of the way," he said. "I'm getting to know a lot of the players. There are a lot of committed players here. I think there are eight from South Carolina, a few from Florida, three from Tennessee.
"I get to talk to them and see why they committed to the school they committed to and why I should come to their state."
Dunlap also talked about what it was like to be coached by the Hoover (Ala.) High staff, which is leading the East squad in the game.
"The coaches here are coaching me to do what I used to do," Dunlap said. "My position coach (at Fort Dorchester) just changed this year, so I am doing what I was doing my junior season here."
Dunlap also talked about his rise from Rivals250 prospect to No. 7 overall in the nation during the course of his senior year.
"I didn't play much my junior year," he said. "I played a lot my junior year, but I didn't start that much. My senior year I was determined to do anything to win."
Part of that determination included returning kickoffs. Dunlap's kickoff return for a touchdown against Fort Dorchester's rival Summerville has become a clip of legend on the Internet.
"They put me at kick return because our offense didn't need to start off in a bad position," he said. "I had to start the game off for the offense and give them good field position. Against Summerville, I was just too determined to beat my rival to be stopped."
While he likely won't see much time on kickoff returns during Thursday night's (7 p.m., ESPNU) contest, Dunlap's approach remains the same as if he were lining up against Summerville.
"We came here to play a game," he said. "We came here to win."