The South Carolina football team is expected to sign a full class of recruits for 2017, with a larger-than-normal group of midyear enrollees.
The number of newcomers who will enroll at USC in January could be in double digits, coach Will Muschamp said.
“I do feel like we’ll have 12 midyear guys we’ll have spots for,” Muschamp said. “That’s a huge part of what we’re doing moving forward. I’m really excited about that.”
After a few recruiting cycles in which two to three January enrollees were the norm, the Gamecocks brought in eight student-athletes in the middle of the academic year for the 2015 class, Steve Spurrier’s final group. Those included junior college transfer Marquavius Lewis.
USC had six midyear guys in Muschamp’s first class: quarterback Brandon McIlwain, tailback CJ Freeman, wide receiver Bryan Edwards, defensive linemen Kobe Smith and Keir Thomas, and defensive back Chris Smith.
The Gamecocks need math to work in their favor to have anyone enroll in January, but it’s mainly a matter of having enough scholarships available to go around. USC is projected to be a few under the 85 scholarship maximum this season, with more coming available after December through graduations and senior attrition.
To be a December high school graduate also requires advance planning on the student-athletes’ part to make sure grades and credits are in order for a midyear move to college. Being on the roster in January gives them a head start on football, academics and the social adjustment from high school.
Tennessee and Florida each brought in more than 10 prospects in January in recent classes. The SEC still limits each school to no more than 25 new scholarships – also known as “initial counters” – in any given year.
Muschamp made his desire for having midyear enrollees known when USC signed off on its 2016 class.
“Midyear guys – I’d take as many as I could, every year,” he said in February. “If they’re not playing spring sports, and they’ve already got their credits done, it’s much more beneficial to them academically number one, socially number two, and athletically, football-wise, number three, to come to campus midyear.
“They’re at a much slower pace academically because they don’t have the distraction of getting ready for a season and getting ready for a game,” Muschamp said. “It’s a much slower environment as opposed to August or September, when they’re going to be coming in and starting fall camp. And then obviously they are able to go through spring, learn our schemes and systems and not have the pressure of getting ready for a game. So obviously it’s a huge benefit, and about every situation I’ve been a part of has been a very positive experience.”
USC 2017 CLASS COMMITMENTS
▪ Jay Urich, QB, Piedmont
▪ Kyshaun Bryan, RB, Fort Lauderdale, Fla
▪ Shawn Smith, WR, Brunswick, Ga.
▪ Shi Smith, WR, Union
▪ Will Register, TE, Chapin
▪ Summie Carlay, OL, Laurens
▪ Dennis Daley, OL, Georgia Military/Columbia
▪ Eric Douglas, OL, Charlotte, NC
▪ Davonne Bowen, LB, Piedmont
▪ Damani Staley, LB, Columbia
▪ Eldridge Thompson, LB, Coffeyville CC (Kansas)/Memphis
▪ Javon Kinlaw, DE, Jones County JC (Miss.)/Goose Creek
▪ Tyreek Johnson, DE, Lakewood/Sumter
▪ Devonte Wyatt, DE, Towers/Decatur, Ga.
▪ Jaylin Dickerson, DB, Southern Pines, NC
▪ Tavyn Jackson, DB, Tallahassee, Fla.
▪ Damarri Mathis, DB, Lakeland, Fla.