USC Gamecocks Football

How Muschamp keeps plugging along at program rebuild

South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp boiled National Signing Day down to its most basic and brutal point Wednesday: “You have to continue to evolve. You have to continue to add big, strong people to your roster.”

Muschamp completed, or at least almost completed, his third signing class with the Gamecocks on Wednesday. He and his staff inherited a roster that had slipped below the competitive surface in the final years of the Steve Spurrier era. Fixing that took recruiting and took time. It will take more of both, but South Carolina can at least tread water in the SEC now.

“You are never going to be satisfied but standing in our offseason program Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of this week as opposed to two years ago is night and day,” Muschamp said. “As far as the girth of our football team, the length, the athleticism, the guys that jump out at you athletically. They compare very favorably to different places I have been.”

The Gamecocks added two players Wednesday who both check the girth, length and athleticism boxes – four-star offensive lineman Dylan Wonnum of Georgia and four-star defensive lineman Rick Sandidge. After signing 20 players in December’s early signing period, there wasn’t much work left to be done on what used to be the calendar’s only National Signing Day. South Carolina has two more scholarships it can use this year. Muschamp said he knows who he wants to use them on, but he is barred from mentioning unsigned prospects by name.

As for the signed ones, he declared Wonnum and Sandidge “the exclamation points” on his biggest emphasis in this recruiting cycle.

“A huge emphasis going into this process was on both lines of scrimmage, to improve our quality depth, to get bigger, to get longer, to get more athletic,” Muschamp said. “At the end of the day, we got two very athletic big men who had offers from everybody in the country. Our staff did a fantastic job of solidifying those guys coming. I felt good about all along that we had done a nice job.”

Wonnum, 6-foot-5, 320 pounds, picked the Gamecocks over Tennessee and Auburn. He is the younger brother of South Carolina defensive end D.J. Wonnum.

“Very athletic, great balance, body control, a guy that from a protection standpoint can set the edge, play right or left tackle, and a guy we are really excited about,” Muschamp said of Dylan.

Sandidge, 6-5, 285, was the only player whose commitment had not been made public before Wednesday.

“He can obviously (play inside), but he has wiggle enough to slide out and play end in our regular package,” Muschamp said. “An athletic big man who can run and push the pocket, can win in the pass rush.”

South Carolina’s 2018 recruiting class ranks 19th in the country and seventh in the SEC, behind Georgia (No. 1 nationally), Alabama (No. 7), Auburn (No. 12), Florida (No. 14), LSU (No. 15) and Texas A&M (No. 17).

“We got better today,” Muschamp said.

That’s a terribly vague statement, but Muschamp has earned the benefit of the doubt so far in his time at South Carolina. The Gamecocks’ last two recruiting classes have produced 18 starters, nine more contributors and two captains. Muschamp described them as “just a bunch of good football players that enabled us to continue to make some progress in our program.”

“There is a very positive buzz about our program right now, but we have to continue to press forward,” Muschamp said. “That’s the bottom line.”

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