With National Signing Day less than four weeks away, Will Muschamp and his staff are putting the finishing touches on plans to close out their first South Carolina recruiting class.
“What we’re going to do this week is go through as a staff and really rank who we feel like the best players are on each side of the ball,” Muschamp told The State this week. “What are our needs? Obviously playmakers and big guys up front defensively. We need to really take some strides there. That’s where our focus is.”
A recruiting dead period, in which coaches and prospects can’t meet face-to-face, ends Jan. 13. Starting Jan. 14, next Thursday, the dash to the Feb. 3 finish line begins.
That means three weekends for hosting official visits and a little more than two full weeks for the new USC staff to hit the road recruiting. While groundwork will be laid for the 2017 and 2018 classes, the primary focus will be completion of this “transition class,” a group that bridges recruits from the end of the Steve Spurrier era and the beginning of Muschamp’s.
As the staff sets the recruiting board for the final push, coaches will take a “best football players available” approach to filling out the class, Muschamp said.
“When you’re trying to piece it together, the most important thing is signing the best players,” he said. “I’m not necessarily dialed in as much on numbers at a position as I am finding the best players.”
USC’s 2016 class currently totals 18 prospects. Junior college defensive back Jamarcus King has signed a national letter of intent, and as many as six high school commitments are expected to enroll at USC this month.
Midyear enrollees’ scholarships historically “count back” to the prior calendar year. With Muschamp planning to sign a full class of 25 in February, that leaves room for 13-14 more to join this first class.
Recruiting territory assignments are not complete for the new staff, but that will happen soon after the ninth and final on-field assistant hire is made, Muschamp said. Even then, those assignments won’t completely dictate how the staff closes on the class.
“We’ve got to do a good job in the state of South Carolina, number one,” Muschamp said. “We’ve got to hit a lot of different spots as far as kids are concerned, not so much structured as area as much as it is ballplayers. The head coach only gets one shot, so I’ll try to hit all the guys we are targeting as far as what we need to do to be successful in ending this signing class the right way.”