One of the characteristics South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner sought in a new coach was a tireless recruiter. He found that in Will Muschamp.
“He told me yesterday I need an airplane after the press conference, I’ve got to go recruiting,” Tanner recalled. “Before the conversation ended he said, ‘I need two airplanes.’ I said, ‘We’ll do whatever we need to do,’ and that’s where we are today.”
Muschamp arrived in Columbia Sunday and got straight to work, breaking down film of South Carolina targets and commits and making phone calls to prospects. He began visiting prospects throughout the state shortly after the conclusion of Monday’s press conference.
Muschamp is the only coach allowed to offer a scholarship and considers himself to be the recruiting coordinator.
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“We’re not throwing out offers to anybody who can walk and chew gum at the same time – like a lot of schools do,” he said. “We’re all about evaluating talent.”
His four recruiting classes at Florida were ranked No. 11, 4, 3 and 9 by 247Sports. Clemson has finished ahead of South Carolina each of the past five years in recruiting, and it is Muschamp’s goal to change that.
“We need to win the state back in recruiting,” he said. “That’s the most important thing.”
While Muschamp has helped assemble several highly ranked recruiting classes, he said he doesn’t put much stock into rankings. It is more important to him to bring in players that fit what USC is trying to do on offense, defense and special teams.
“I know our fan base will get really excited about a five-star, but at the end of the day it’s not really about winning in February. It’s about winning in the fall, and winning with good football players who are going to represent this university in a first-class manner,” he said. “I’ve never worried about how many stars they had by their name. I really haven’t. … I’ve signed a bunch of two stars that were really good football players, and they’re still playing in the National Football League.”
Recruiting at Florida is considered to be a much easier task than recruiting at South Carolina, partly because of the large amount of talent in the state. But Muschamp believes he has a plan in place to be successful.
He said the most important aspect of recruiting is building a relationship, and he intends to focus on a five-hour radius surrounding Columbia so that families can easily make it to games. He added that it is also easy to fly in from the Northeast to Columbia.
“You talk in terms of going into North Carolina, Florida and Georgia, and obviously recruiting some of the Northeast guys with direct flights from Washington and Philadelphia and New Jersey, flying directly into Columbia you can access some kids in the Northeast,” he said. “But we need to win the state back first. I understand that, and that’s what we need to do and that’s where my efforts this week certainly are going to be focused.”
Even though Muschamp is a hard worker on the recruiting trail, he also needs help, even outside of his coaching staff, to accomplish what he would like to.
He said Tanner is committed to making sure he has everything he needs to put together a talented football team.
“I think the support staff is an important part that we’re moving forward and Coach Tanner fully supports that as far as the things we need to do off the field with the recruiting office and the manpower you’ve got to have to be successful,” Muschamp said. “When you have so many duties as a coach, as a head coach, you have to have people behind the scenes that do a fantastic job for you as far as setting things up as far as recruiting is concerned. That’s certainly something we’re pushing forward and moving the envelope with.”
Muschamp sells his program on being a great place athletically, academically, socially and spiritually. He feels that he has everything he needs from that aspect in Columbia.
“From a facilities standpoint, it’s going to be hard for a young man to turn us down. That’s the way I look at it,” Muschamp said. “You have to develop them on the field as well, and I’ll put our track record up against anybody’s as far as the development of players when you get them on campus, because that’s critical as well.”