Will Muschamp talks Williams-Brice upgrades, recruiting
That total bring USC to 14 incoming freshmen, plus a grad transfer and traditional transfer, for what should be 25 spots (more on that later).
With a theoretical nine spots left, it’s worth taking a closer look at where the Gamecocks likely still need to add players and some of the opportunities that lie ahead:
Commits by position:
QB - 1, FULL
RB - 1, Probably not full
WR - 2, Probably not full
TE - 1 (transfer), Probably not full
OL - 5, FULL
DL - 2
LB - 1
DB - 2
LS - 1 (transfer), Very FULL
The first question as to what comes next is a big one: The Feaster quandary.
The Gamecocks have been going after former Clemson tailback Tavian Feaster to supplement a running back room with three seniors, none of whom have taken control of the job. If he comes to USC, he’s likely the most talented tailback off the bat, though Virginia Tech is reportedly right in it for him. (Tech loses its top running back, while the Gamecocks return their top two.)
If Feaster comes, USC would be down to eight spots, and it could get some back if one or both of the non-enrolled freshmen don’t qualify (the transfers would count back to 2019). So what happens with the non-full positions?
RB - Could use another 2020 player
The Gamecocks already have a four-star commit in MarShawn Lloyd, but have been hard after top-50 recruit Tank Bigsby. If they don’t manage to land him, they’re in line to lose three of four backs depending on Feaster’s choice. So pencil in one spot here.
WR - Could use another
USC has two players, both stronger, bigger-bodied types. If there’s a speed option available, that would make the most sense. USC is only in line to lose two seniors, but one is Bryan Edwards, who could hold most of the school’s career receiving records. There’s a mild risk Shi Smith could have a chance to make an NFL jump, and a fourth-year junior like Randrecous Davis is always a grad transfer risk. The team could stand pat, but it seems unlikely.
TE - Could probably use another
Muse helps in the shorter term (especially if he gets a waiver to play next fall), and the team is in line to likely return five of six scholarship players. But USC has been going hard after Florida commit Jaheim Bell and Eric Shaw out of Alabama. One of those guys might end up in the mix.
Should those three spots each get one more scholarship, USC is down to five or six to bolster the defense.
This is a spot where the Gamecocks probably have the most to gain if everything falls together. They already have a four-star commit in Alex Huntley and a mobile 300-pounder in Makius Scott. They appear to be in good position with the likes of four-stars Myles Murphy and Tonka Hemingway. Then there’s the lingering question of Jordan Burch, the No. 1 recruit in the land, a player USC would have to take. The group will lose a trio of seniors, all rotation players, though it’s unlikely any juniors leave early. Two more would have to join at a minimum, but the right three would likely make the cut.
South Carolina already has one in the fold with Mohamed Kaba, and the group is only in line to lose starter T.J. Brunson and reserve Eldridge Thompson (none of the juniors showed much indication of being ready to leave early). It seems unlikely the staff will only take one. Both Len’Neth Whitehead and Desmond Tisdol are four-stars with offers, but USC doesn’t seem to be in prime position with either. D.J. Lundy was a late May offer. This spot probably gets at least one more guy.
USC currently has two commits, a pair of tall corners. The team only brought in four players in the secondary last season (plus a transfer), the lowest of the Will Muschamp era. With camp season done, USC is likely near the end of its offers. It had Joey Hunter in for an official and seems high up with North Carolina safety Ja’Qurious Conley. Muschamp’s staff doesn’t mind taking more under-the-radar guys here. Only one player is leaving the secondary, but it still feels probable they end up at least four guys here.
South Carolina recently offered a scholarship to Kai Kroeger out of Illinois. It’s unusual to offer a punter out of high school, even with Joseph Charleton about to run out of eligibility. It would be quite a thing to spend two of 25 spots on special teamers (along with a grad transfer long snapper), but perhaps possible.
Overall, it seems unlikely each of those non-full offensive positions don’t get one more guy unless there’s just no one worthwhile. That leaves five or six openings depending on Feaster. If one assumes at least two more defensive linemen, two more defensive backs and one more linebacker, there’s likely one wild card spot that could end up Feaster or a punter or perhaps Jordan Burch.
It’s part of the reality that when a team starts locking in pieces, things will get tight. USC already has a good bit of talent (six four-stars) and a bevy of blue chippers still in play. But with a pair of transfers and a full incoming offensive line, there might be more judiciousness with the remaining spots.