South Carolina’s Will Muschamp is usually planning ahead, laying things out, building contingencies.
But the Gamecocks’ head man didn’t see what was coming when the NCAA instituted an early signing day for football.
“I never thought when they first came up with this you would be signing this many guys,” Muschamp said.
A year ago, his squad inked 20 on the first signing day in mid-December and only two in February (Dylan Wonnum and Rick Sandidge). After that came a pair of grad transfers in J.T. Ibe and Nick Harvey to round out the group.
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He’s already said he expects 18 to 20 to sign a week from Wednesday. His team projects to have 22 spots, with former signee Tyquan Johnson, and transfers Josh Belk and Jamel Cook filling out the 25 available scholarships.
“The recruiting process is so much more accelerated now than it’s ever been,” Muschamp said. “So as far as recruiting guys their sophomore year of high school, their junior year of high school, they’ve visited multiple places, they’ve got different way to get to different places and see different schools. And they’re narrowing down the schools they’re interested in. They’re committing earlier.”
The majority of USC’s pledges pulled the trigger last spring or early summer, including four-star quarterback Ryan Hilinski and five-star defensive lineman Zacch Pickens. USC has already had a 2020 player commit and decommit, and had a 2019 player commit in summer of 2017 and decommit in February of this year.
Muschamp still has some spots to fill, especially on the offensive line and the defensive backfield. He hopes to have most of that done this month, and if not then, on to February.
Last season also provided another glimpse into the different, accelerated recruiting world.
“We’re probably going to have around 12 or 13 mid-year enrollees this year,” Muschamp said. “And that’s a credit to the student-athletes, No. 1. No. 2 Maria Hickman (Associate AD in charge of academics) and her staff. In order to have a mid-year, you have to have space. You can’t just bring a guy in off the trail. You have to have space with a guy that has graduated.”
He noted 17 of the 20 players who walked on senior day were set to have degrees at the end of this semester.
And the trend likely won’t change in the new future.
“Every year, we’re going to have 13, 14, 15 mid-year guys because our guys are graduating,” Muschamp said.