Like any college football junkie, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier spent parts of the day Wednesday taking in some of ESPN’s coverage of National Signing Day.
“It was interesting that two of the guys working television today — Randy Shannon had the No. 1 recruiting class in 2008, Urban Meyer had the No. 1 recruiting class last year — and both those guys are working television,” Spurrier said. “Now Urban left because of health reasons or stress or what have you, but the other guy got fired.
“Like Urban said, ‘Three years from now, nobody will give a dang where you were ranked in recruiting,’ but everybody cares today because we all look at it, and it does give you hope or a little boost.”
The Gamecocks got a big boost in numbers. South Carolina received signed letters of intent from 26 players Wednesday. Add those to the four players who joined the team in January, and that’s 30 new Gamecocks with two spots pending.
South Carolina did not receive New Jersey wide receiver Damiere Byrd’s paperwork because Byrd was traveling to Japan, where he will compete this weekend in the 100-meter dash as part of the Team USA Juniors track team. Byrd’s paperwork is expected as early as today.
The other available spot is being held for Rock Hill defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the consensus No. 1 player in the nation, who will wait until Feb. 14 to announce his choice. Clowney also is considering Alabama and Clemson.
“Well, we can’t talk about that one guy, that’s against the rules to talk about him,” Spurrier said. “We’re all just waiting it out, like probably some other schools are at this time.”
South Carolina recruiting coordinator Shane Beamer said waiting past National Signing Day for a recruit is new for him.
“Obviously the person we are talking about is a really good player so it would be a big impact on this class,” Beamer said, “but it’s already a pretty good class.”
Without Clowney, the Gamecocks’ class is ranked No. 13 by Scout.com, No. 20 by Rivals.com and No. 24 by ESPN. The Gamecocks’ ranking could move closer to the top 10 with a pledge from Clowney, Scout.com Southeast recruiting manager Chad Simmons said.
“It’s a very good class, a complete class,” Simmons said. “They are waiting for that last piece, the face of this class. There is not a whole lot of star power right now. That’s where Clowney comes in. Brandon Shell is a five-star guy, but he is real low key. They are missing that Marcus Lattimore X-factor. Clowney is that guy this year. If he comes aboard, it’s going to take this class to a different level.”
The Gamecocks closed strong, adding defensive lineman Phillip Dukes, tight end Jerell Adams and linebacker Cedrick Cooper in the final three days.
“There haven’t been any surprises,” Spurrier said. “We actually signed 31 of the about 38 guys we went after, so percentage-wise it was pretty good this year. Our coaches did a super job really recruiting these guys, most all of them well over a year.”
The class features 11 South Carolina natives, 11 Georgia natives, four Florida natives and two players each from New Jersey and North Carolina.
Pending Byrd and Clowney, the class has 15 offensive and 15 defensive players.
“We are happy with the players that came with us and feel like we have a chance to continue doing some big things and hopefully some bigger things in the next three or four years,” Spurrier said. “Three or four years from now, we’ll find out if this was an outstanding recruiting class or not, that’s the test, three or four years down the road.”