South Carolina’s final recruiting push toward National Signing Day starts this week.
Coaches will scatter across the state and the Southeast on Thursday to see recruits at their schools. The Gamecocks will begin the first of three official visit weekends for prospects on Friday.
New coach Will Muschamp has a different perspective on how he’d like to handle the scale of recruiting weekends.
“I would rather have smaller weekends because you get to spend more personal time with the family and with the recruit, to get to know them better,” Muschamp said. “I don’t like the really big weekends. It’s hard to manage everyone. Generally, someone is going to leave upset on a big weekend, in my experience.”
Smaller groups for each of these weekends might not be an option for the 2016 class, Muschamp said.
There are 16 recruits slated to visit this weekend, according to 247Sports. Five are scheduled to visit the weekend of Jan. 22, with six more the final weekend of the month.
“We’re kind of held hostage a little bit by time,” he said.
South Carolina had four weekends available for this recruiting cycle once Muschamp was hired. USC hosted six prospects in December just before a month-long “dead period” set in.
That dead period ended Wednesday. A “contact period,” in which face-to-face interaction is allowed between coaches and prospects, lasts 18 days (Jan. 14-31). National Signing Day is Feb. 3.
A prospect can take up to five official visits during his senior year. Those trips, paid for by the university and typically lasting three days and two nights, happen during or after the football season.
“I would rather have smaller weekends and especially have more out-of-state or further-away guys visit during the season,” Muschamp said, “because I think the gameday atmosphere is as good as anywhere in the country.”
Muschamp said he’d like to include a postseason football banquet in December that would be a good selling point on a visit weekend.
The previous South Carolina staff focused a lot of effort into one “big recruiting weekend” in January, usually including a Saturday when the USC men’s basketball team was in town. Last year, USC hosted 23 prospects on that weekend and 20 for the 2014 class.
USC’s current class has 21 commitments and ranks No. 29 nationally, according to the 247Sports Composite ranking.
In addition to the USC vs. Missouri basketball game, this weekend’s itinerary includes campus and facility tours, meals and other opportunities for players and their families to interact with coaches, players and athletics director Ray Tanner.
Muschamp could have a full staff in place by the time the weekend of visits kicks off.
“It starts with the staff to be able to sell their vision, our vision to a young man and their family,” Muschamp said. “It’s exciting.”