South Carolina's coaches may have a built-in advantage over East Carolina and the vast majority of the nation's programs.
The Gamecocks have nearly completed their 2012 recruiting class. Coaches are used to juggling their coaching and game planning along with their recruiting responsibilities, which become much more substantial in the month of September, this time of the year.
However, the Gamecocks already have 18 commitments in hand – that’s more than USC may ultimately have scholarships for – and though they continue to recruit a few standouts in the senior class, the class is essentially complete.
It’s odd for USC to be in the company of powerhouses like Texas and Alabama, who frequently complete a large portion of their signing classes before the season starts. But is it a good thing to finish recruiting this early?
“I don’t know if it’s good of if it’s bad,” said ESPN’s Tom Luginbill, the national scouting director for Scouts Inc. “I think it gives you an opportunity to know exactly where your numbers are and an opportunity to move forward. You get more time to spend on the 2013 class. You might get a jumpstart on some competitors. I think that’s where there are some advantages.
“It’s a luxury at times, but what people fail to realize is that they say, ‘They only have this many scholarships and can only sign this many guys.’ That might be a reflection that the entire roster is returning. That’s a good thing, a positive. But fans don’t always look at it that way. They just look at the [total] numbers and wonder why they aren’t doing well.”
USC is doing well, however. The Gamecocks’ class is ranked 10th nationally by Rivals, though that rating will likely begin to slip as other programs add commitments and USC remains inactive.
It’s obvious the Gamecocks are adding talent. The average star rating for their 18 commitments is 3.33, according to Rivals. That equals the rating for ninth-ranked LSU, a recruiting juggernaut, and betters two other top-ten teams, Miami and Texas A&M.
USC’s average star rating last year was 3.25, perhaps proof that the Gamecocks’ on- and off-field success within the last year is making an impact on recruiting. By finishing early this year, it could lead to better classes down the road.
“It gives them a head start,” Luginbill said. “The process has become so accelerated now that anytime you can get a jump on the next class, [it’s a positive]. But these guys are just committed, and they can go anywhere on a moment’s notice, so you are recruiting them the exact same way.”
On the air
USC commitment Cody Waldrop of Armwood (Fla.) debuted on ESPN in Friday’s 20-17 win over nationally ranked Bishop Gorman (Nev.). Another USC commitment will play on the Worldwide Leader in Sports next month.
Yulee (Fla.) tight end Kelvin Rainey will be among the players to watch in a battle with Buford (Ga.) on Sept. 9. The game kicks off at 8:30 p.m. and will be aired live on ESPNU.
ESPN’s high school broadcast schedule doesn’t include any other games involving USC commitments.