It’s sort of a bedrock rule most college football coaches follow: every year, recruit one, and usually only one, quarterback.
Rare is the situation where a staff takes a second, or a passer wants to find himself being the second quarterback in the class. This year, South Carolina seemed to poke around the idea after four-star Brandon McIlwain was signed as an early enrollee, but nothing came of it.
“What makes it tough to get two quarterbacks in the same class is when one is a mid-term,” ESPN recruiting expert Gerry Hamilton said. “So he essentially has a spring head start. So that can make it tough because two quarterbacks don’t come in on equal footing. With that being said, in South Carolina's case, it’s an open quarterback competition. So that can outweigh the negative, as well, if it's seen as open competition and there is not a guy there that is going to be the starter.”
After McIlwain signed, coach Will Muschamp and his new Gamecocks staff had contact with now-Rutgers commit Tylin Oden, Ashley Ridge QB Steven Duncan (a Western Kentucky commitment) and Spartanburg’s Austin Scott, a potential walk-on who later committed to Eastern Kentucky. With no other passers and only days to National Signing Day, it appears that brief push won’t produce much.
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So why would a team be in the hunt for a second arm?
“Sometimes they could have some transfers,” said Steve Wiltfong, 247Sports’ director of recruiting. “They may not have enough guys on scholarship that they want, so they need to add depth and competition to the roster if guys transfer or leave early.”
South Carolina didn’t see much attrition at the position, as passers from the past three recruiting classes are still on campus, plus former walk-on Perry Orth. But none showed a consistent ability to get and stay on the field, and some could be transfer candidates depending how spring practice goes.
The Gamecocks have taken multiple quarterbacks in a class three times since 2004. The first two instances ended with all four passers transferring, but the last one produced Connor Shaw, the best passer the program has seen, and Dylan Thompson, productive both as a backup and in one season starting.
Wiltfong said he’s seen a rise in two-QB classes, but the occurrence remains rare. Even as South Carolina toyed with the idea once the top prospect in the class was locked up, it didn’t come to pass because the situation is always rather delicate.
“A lot of kids don’t want to be in a two-quarterback class,” Wiltfong said. “Obviously, you’re not only competing against older kids then, you’re competing against kids in your own class. So it’s not that advantageous. But sometimes, if it’s a kid’s dream school, or if a kid is not as high-profile but thinks he’s better than the other kid, there’s all kinds of reasons why there would be a two-quarterback class.”