Recruiting is on the front burner for Will Muschamp and the Gamecocks during his first week on the job.
Here are five key points about what’s happening this week:
1. It starts at the top
Muschamp declared himself his own recruiting coordinator Monday at his introductory press conference. Assistant coaches will recruit their territories. Coordinators then bring offer candidates to Muschamp. “I’m the only coach that offers scholarships,” he said on a radio interview with 107.5 The Game. “I think that’s important. Each coach is going to have an area, in charge of that area. I better not find out about a player that we don’t know about.”
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2. Instate focus
“Win the state back” was a common theme of Muschamp’s introduction and his actions that followed. On Monday he visited Richland Northeast linebacker T.J. Brunson (Louisville commit) and Conway receiver Bryan Edwards (former USC commit). He was in the Upstate on Tuesday visiting Greer defensive back Troy Pride. New assistant Bobby Bentley went to see Spartanburg running back (and Clemson commit) Tavien Feaster. “Let’s do a great job of evaluating our kids in our state rather than traveling across five states to sign a young man when you could have found one right here at home,” he told 107.5. USC also will continue to focus recruiting efforts on North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
3. Those decommitments
USC lost two defensive players from its 2016 class the same day a defensive-minded head coach was hired. How does that happen? Relationships. Defensive end Jordan Smith of Lithonia, Ga., was committed but dropped USC from consideration. He was recruited by former USC staffer Lorenzo Ward for three years. That kind of bond can be a big deal to prospects. Defensive back J.J. Givens of Mechanicsville, Va., backed off his commitment but says he wants to meet the new staff. The Gamecocks are still in the mix with Givens. Overall, the Gamecocks have had six decommitments in the class, with five of them coming after Steve Spurrier announced his resignation as head coach. More attrition is always possible.
4. New targets emerge
The Gamecocks offered Hanahan High receiver Samuel Denmark (a Virginia Tech commit) this week. They also offered top-rated junior college defensive back Jamarcus King (6-1, 180) of Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. King was recruited by Muschamp while he was defensive coordinator at Auburn. He will take an official visit to USC this weekend. Expect other Auburn targets, and perhaps some Tigers commits, to take a look at the Gamecocks because of prior relationships with Muschamp and USC defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson. Muschamp also has a reputation for “flipping” prospects from their current commitments. If USC takes a full class for 2016, that could mean 15 or so new commitments in less than two months.
5. First big weekend
South Carolina will cap the week with a big weekend of official visits (two-day trips funded largely by the school). Quarterback commitment Brandon McIlwain is the headliner. A pro baseball opportunity may loom for McIlwain, but interest from Penn State is the more immediate threat. Muschamp’s staff also will try to get Conway’s Edwards back into the fold. Both received in-home visits this week, both are midyear enrollees and both are priorities. Givens and Brunson are among the weekend’s expected unofficial visitors. The weekend is important because it’s the last window for official visits ahead of a month-long “dead period” in which face-to-face visits of any kind are not allowed.