South Carolina and Clemson will set a little bit of history next week on National Signing Day.
Together they will sign fewer than 10 instate high school athletes to football scholarships, the first time that’s happened in at least the last 13 years.
Chalk it up to a down year of depth in Palmetto State prospects, national analysts say.
“It’s just not a very strong group top to bottom,” Rivals national recruiting analysts Mike Farrell said. “The talent is down, so you’ve got to go elsewhere. You have to be creative when you don’t have a lot of talent in your state.”
The Gamecocks in this class have three commitments and Tigers have five from S.C. players. That’s nine less than the average 17 instate athletes signed each year by both schools since 2001.
Both schools looked beyond the state border as much or more than usual to fill this recruiting class.
South Carolina is on track to sign prospects from Maryland and Pennsylvania. Clemson has commitments from New York, Maryland, Alabama and Hawaii. The Gamecocks, meanwhile, have seven pledges from Georgia and five from North Carolina.
The combined eight instate signees would total 10 if the schools had their way, as two top players in the 2013 class are leaving South Carolina to play college football.
Goose Creek athlete Tramel Terry and Pendleton defensive lineman Michael Hill – rated one and two in the 247Sports Composite rankings – are headed to Georgia and Ohio State, respectively. Both were strongly recruited by Clemson and South Carolina.
Terry’s defection breaks the Gamecocks’ four-year run of signing the state’s Mr. Football winner.
Though NCAA rules prevent him from talking about a specific player, USC recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier Jr. expressed disappointment over top players leaving the Palmetto State.
“It’s hard to believe kids would find a better out-of-state opportunity than what we have for them,” Spurrier Jr. said. “At both instate programs, you always want to know that you can recruit your state. If we can put the fence around the state like everyone says, our state produces a lot of great players, and you can have a great team. We hope that trend doesn’t continue.”
There are 19 three- and four-star instate prospects in this class, according to Rivals, compared with about 30 in each of the last four years. Clemson will sign more from the state for the eighth time in nine years.
The Gamecocks will meet needs by adding the top offensive linemen in the state, Dillon’s D.J. Park and Bryce King, said 247Sports national analyst Keith Niebuhr, as well as Goose Creek linebacker-defensive end Gerald Turner.
“You’re not going to get the No. 1 guy every year,” Niebuhr said.
Experts predict 2014 to be a stronger year for talent within South Carolina.
According to 247Sports, the Gamecocks have offered 12 instate players for 2014, up from six for 2013. Clemson has made 14 offers to S.C. players for next year, up from 11 in this class.
“As much success as us and Clemson have had, we’ve always said we can both be good teams if we can recruit this state well,” Spurrier Jr. said. “We’ve done a good job the past four or five years.”
Numbers include only those who played high school the prior year (excludes junior college and prep school players)
Sources: Rivals.com, The State archives
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