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South Carolina quietly added 21 football players to its roster Wednesday. The signing class and its low profile felt about right to Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier.
“You’re not going to see me doing a bunch of rah-rahing on signing day,” Spurrier said. “It’s an important day, I am not trying to sound like it’s not important, but we’d rather make our noise out here in Williams-Brice on game day.”
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South Carolina’s class was highlighted by its volume of linemen and linebackers and included what CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming called “one of the best offensive line groups in the country.”
The Gamecocks class was ranked the nation’s 16th-best by Lemming and Rivals.com and No. 21 in the country by Scout.com and 247Sports.com.
“That recruiting can be a little deceiving at times,” Spurrier said. “You never know what you’ve got until you really play it out. I know back in 2008 I think Florida had the No.1 class and two years later that No. 1 class drove Urban Meyer to retirement. Of course he came back a year later, and he’s an excellent coach. That No. 1 class just didn’t pan out. Of course, it usually pans out at Alabama every year.”
It is the third straight year South Carolina has been ranked in the nation’s top 25 in recruiting by both Scout.com and Rivals.com.
“Recruiting is extremely important but after they get there is really what’s most important,” Spurrier said. “We believe it’s a good, solid bunch of young men who will fit in very well here at South Carolina and help us continue winning a whole bunch of games and hopefully a conference championship real soon.”
Four members of the class played high school football in South Carolina, but the Gamecocks did get highly recruited players from Philadelphia (four-star running back David Williams) and Maryland (four-star offensive linemen Na’Ty Rodgers).
“They are expanding their recruiting horizons,” Lemming said. “Nowadays to compete in the SEC, you have to have a longer reach in recruiting because that is what Alabama and everybody else is doing. South Carolina is doing that now.”
The Gamecocks signed five offensive linemen, but their top prospect according to 247Sports.com’s composite player rankings is defensive lineman Kelsey Griffin of Hoschton, Ga., who is the No. 83 player in the country when the grades of all the major recruiting services are averaged.
“The class is lacking a superstar, but it’s not lacking in talent,” Lemming said. “It’s a very athletic class. It doesn’t have a (Marcus) Lattimore or (Jadeveon) Clowney, but it’s top to bottom an outstanding group.”
Griffin, Williams, linebacker Larenz Bryant and offensive lineman D.J. Park were the consensus four-star prospects in the class.
“We maybe weren’t on a whole bunch of real top-notch, five-star guys this year,” Spurrier said. “Hopefully, next year maybe we’ll be on some of those kinds of guys.”
With the class’ lack of star power, the Gamecocks didn’t match the national attention received by competitors. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and several SEC head coaches did national media interviews, but not so for Spurrier.
“I think some schools like to celebrate this day,” recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier Jr. said. “I don’t necessarily think that is our ultimate objective, to make this one of the most important days of the year.”
“We are sitting in there most of the day watching everything. Finally they did scroll through there and had us No. 17 or something,” Spurrier said. “I was like, ‘At least they know we’re still in there somewhere. We didn’t get a lot of PR today, but that’s OK. It’s a good, solid bunch of guys, it really is.”