Will Muschamp has stressed the importance of recruiting well in the state of South Carolina since being introduced as the Gamecocks’ head coach. High school coaches in the state say Muschamp is living up to his word, and they can tell there is a heavy focus on in-state prospects.
Muschamp and his staff have spent the past several weeks re-evaluating high school players who were not previously offered by USC, as well as visiting and calling high school coaches to try and build relationships.
The Gamecocks have added commitments from wide receivers Chavis Dawkins of Byrnes and Diondre Champaigne of Fort Dorchester, two prospects who were not offered by the previous coaching staff. South Carolina also has gotten involved with several other prospects who were not being recruited heavily before the coaching change, including Yafari Werts of Newberry and Hank Tuipulotu of Nation Ford.
Byrnes coach Brian Lane told The State he has been impressed by USC’s recruiting efforts under Muschamp.
“It sounds like Coach Muschamp definitely wants to recruit in-state, definitely wants to make that a focus,” Lane said. “We got this email from the coaches association that they wanted all of the head coaches’ phone numbers per a request from Coach Muschamp. He really wants to get back in South Carolina, and it’s obvious, from an offers standpoint at least, that he’s focusing on recruiting the state.”
Lane said he met with USC running backs coach Bobby Bentley, who coached at Byrnes before going to Auburn, shortly after he joined the Carolina staff.
Bentley made it clear to Lane that the Gamecocks’ staff is aware that there is plenty of work to do, and they are committed to building relationships.
“One thing Coach Bentley asked me is, he said, ‘Alright, Brian. Nothing against the other staff, but how many of those guys did you really know in Columbia? Can you name them? And do they know your name?’ I could name a couple,” Lane recalled. “He said, ‘Alright, name the ones at Clemson that know your name,’ and I could name several. He said, ‘We’ve got to get back into South Carolina big.’ They’re diving in head first.”
Phil Strickland, who coached at Gaffney before coming to Newberry, said the previous staff at South Carolina did a good job of recruiting in-state, but he too has noticed a difference under Muschamp.
“I think they’ve gotten their share of in-state players over the years, but I think they’re making a conscious effort to look at the in-state players first,” Strickland said. “Not that the old staff did a bad job, but I’ve been contacted a good bit more here recently than I had before.”
Muschamp said it is important for high school coaches to know that the South Carolina staff will be accommodating and helpful as much as possible.
“I look forward to building those relationships,” he said. “Our doors are always open. We don’t have any secrets. We need to do a good job with the highs school coaches in the state. It’s very important to me.”
Lane said if there are two players who are similar in talent, South Carolina should take the in-state prospect over the out-of-state prospect.
He said from his experiences he has noticed players play with more of a sense of pride when they are playing for their home-state school.
“Obviously you want to get the best people you can, and if there’s somebody better, go get them, but if they’re equal stay in state,” Lane said. “It’s a feel-good situation when you bring in guys that are helping you win and that went to a high school in South Carolina. I think it means more. If there’s a kid that’s the same caliber in South Carolina and in Louisiana, go for the one in South Carolina.”