A nine-win season followed by a red-hot streak on the recruiting trail has ramped up the buzz surrounding South Carolina football. To Connor Shaw, these times are starting to resemble the not-so-distant past.
The former Gamecocks quarterback appeared on the Paul Finebaum Show on Friday afternoon and was asked for his take on the state of the program he starred for from 2010-2013.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Will Muschamp," Shaw said. "He’s done a great job of getting a lot of kids in the building to fit their needs in the right system. He’s put together a great staff and good people.
"I think he’s done a great job in the few years that he’s been there. I think they’ll continue to stack on that. "
USC's 9-4 record in 2017 was its best since Shaw's 2,447 yards and 24 touchdowns helped the Gamecocks go 11-2 in 2013. The then-senior finished his career by taking Outback Bowl MVP honors. That ended a four-year run under Steve Spurrier in which Carolina went 42-11.
The 2018 Gamecocks return a number of notable players, including quarterback Jake Bentley and receiver Deebo Samuel.
"If they can stay healthy next year, Jake’s got some weapons coming back like Deebo," Shaw said. “They’ve done a great job of recruiting. And (Muschamp's) got the locker room, honestly, pretty similar to the way we had when we had a great four-year run.
“So there’s going to be a lot of high expectations coming out of Columbia, South Carolina. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
Bentley, a rising junior, has started 20 games in garnet and black, throwing for 3,975 yards and 25 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Shaw entered his junior season with 1,671 career passing yards with 15 TDs and eight picks.
“I think the most impressive thing about Jake is just his maturity level and his leadership skills at such a young age," Shaw said. "Gosh, you watch him play and you forget that he’s only played for two years in the SEC.
“I’ve played as a sophomore – a little bit as a freshman – and I understand the challenge and difficulty that is. ... He’ll continue to improve.
“It’s obvious that that locker room gels around him and he is their anchor. They’ll go as far as he goes, but he certainly has a lot of help around him. So it’s good to see a person like Jake Bentley in that locker room.”
If you go
What: Columbia All Pro Dad Father and Kids Experience
When: 9 a.m. to noon Saturday
Where: USC's indoor practice facility off Bluff Road
Cost: $25 per family
More details: www.allprodad.com