South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp has a well-documented disdain for recruiting rankings.
The evaluation metrics and charts of 247, Rivals or ESPN hold no interest for him. He thinks he’s a better evaluator than any of them. But the third-year Gamecocks head man does believe in some metrics, especially for projecting ahead, and that’s how his staff came to be so enamored with Xavier Legette.
“He had NFL combine numbers when he came to our camp,” Muschamp said. “Off the charts. As good as anybody at the combine.”
At the moment, Legette is one of the lowest-rated recruits in the 2019 class. He held a greyshirt offer basically through the early signing day, before the Gamecocks finally allowed him to join the class for next season.
And although Muschamp doesn’t believe in those rankings, he did acknowledge a few reasons Legette might be down in those.
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“He plays at a really small school,” Muschamp said. “He plays quarterback. But we put him through a receiver drill. We really liked what we saw, and then we watched his senior tape, and he has as good a senior tape as any athlete we’ve seen.”
That senior tape included running for more than 1,800 yards as the centerpiece of an 8-2 team. He’s 6-foot-2, 190 pounds and can flat-out move. Muschamp said he’d played some receiver in his high school days, but was mostly just a play-making QB with the ball in his hands.
Legette was the fifth in-state member of the 2019 class. Five-star Zacch Pickens was beloved by almost every recruiting service, and four-star Cam Smith rose quickly in those rankings.
Junior college product Devontae Davis, an S.C. native, and tight end Keshawn Toney weren’t as highly rated, but Muschamp liked what the staff got in both.
The process to bring Legette in was the culmination of how the staff has built relationships within the state. Legette had been waiting on USC, had an offer from Tennessee and was looking at a set of smaller schools.
“You call Mullins High School late in the process and start talking in terms of working him into this class,” Muschamp said. “When they trust you and believe the things you’re saying, they understand and it worked out perfectly for us.”
USC had exited signing day with a pair of receivers in the class. They’d lost Northwestern’s Jamario Holley and target Jashawn Sheffield signed with Auburn late on that day.
As a player who mostly played quarterback, there’s obviously a bit of projection when it comes to what receivers coach Bryan McClendon might be able to do with Legette. But there was something the staff could see in him as he ran the offense.
“You just see his ability to make people miss,” Muschamp said. “His speed to get on the edge and create explosive plays.”