Don’t expect South Carolina’s football program to make major recruiting changes just because it changed coordinators.
Assistant Steve Spurrier Jr. took over that role last week from Shane Beamer, who left Columbia to take a position on his father’s staff at Virginia Tech. The Gamecocks have made strides in recruiting under Beamer the last few years, and Spurrier doesn’t see a reason to overhaul what’s not already broken.
“Our recruiting philosophy is go sign the best players we can,” he said. “The key to our philosophy is to recruit the best players we can instate. That’s the most important thing we do.
“As many high school coaches as we talk to, they’ll all tell you if you put up a fence around this state and sign the best players from this state, you can win a championship. Coaches know that, and high school players know that, too. If we can sign the best players from this state, we have a chance to be a great team every year.”
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The Gamecocks started to flex their instate muscle under Beamer. For years Clemson dominated recruiting between the two schools, but that has started to change. Spurrier said USC will still continue to heavily recruit states like Georgia, Florida and North Carolina to supplement the players they sign from the Palmetto State.
Spurrier said the Gamecocks might take a run at more higher-profile, out-of-state prospects than they historically would have. USC’s on-field and recruiting successes have put them in position to potentially land them.
“To get Jadeveon Clowney and have him wait for Valentine’s Day with all the national publicity we received from that, every person we’ve called or sent an email to we’ve got a response from,” Spurrier said. “So, we know we’ve broadened the scope of the people that we can recruit.
“We still don’t want to be chasing people in Texas and California and Missouri – we don’t want to get too far out of our network and our conference where we recruit – but we realize that we’ll be able to go into anyone’s home and say, ‘We’re a team that’s won the SEC East, we’re a team that’s beaten Alabama and Florida, we’re a team that signed the No. 1 player in the nation who could have went anywhere.’”
USC has hosted a number of juniors on campus since National Signing Day. Spurrier said they – like many prospects to come on campus the last few years – have been impressed with USC’s facilities, but the team’s recent successes is allowing them to get more top prospects in for unofficial visits, a factor that could loom large down the road. Several out-of-state players in the Class of 2012, including one from Oklahoma, have set foot on USC’s campus this year.
Georgia, Florida and North Carolina have traditionally been good recruiting states for USC. However, the coaching staff realized in the last few months that they’ve got the ability to hit nontraditional states and land players.
Assistant coach G.A. Mangus signed three players – Damiere Byrd, Tanner McEvoy and Sheldon Royster – from New Jersey, the first prospects USC has inked from the Garden State since Cory Boyd in 2003. That has encouraged the coaching staff to look outside their comfort zones.
Mangus will continue to recruit the Mid-Atlantic States, and Spurrier may begin recruiting Tennessee once again. He spent several years in the Volunteer State but pulled out after consistently seeing his targets go elsewhere. USC, he said, may be in position to reopen its recruiting in that state.
Those opportunities have presented themselves based on what the Gamecocks have done within the last six months.
“People are excited about the opportunity to be South Carolina Gamecocks,” Spurrier said. “We’ve certainly helped changed the perception. Winning helps recruiting, and recruiting helps winning. We know that combination has to continue to work together.”