South Carolina will roll out the garnet carpet to football prospects Saturday at the annual Gamecock Showcase.
While many of the 50 to 60 who attend the Gamecocks’ premier camp have visited USC before, this weekend's event gives coaches another chance to build momentum with top 2016 and 2017 targets.
“You fight to get these guys on campus so much,” recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier Jr. said. “Now you’re fighting to get them on campus earlier and earlier. You’re trying to get them on campus three, four or five times. You want to try and provide a different experience every time they come.”
The Showcase epicenter is at Williams-Brice Stadium, but recruits and family members are shown other parts of campus on a day that is more specific and formal than what a recruit might experience on a previous visit. An on-field workout at the stadium lasts about an hour.
One of the biggest changes in the Showcase this year is the date. In the accelerated and competitive world of recruiting, USC opted to move the event from late July to mid-June.
“You want to find a date that’s good for them,” Spurrier said. “Guys are committing earlier. Guys were wanting to take trips earlier. They were wanting to get on your campus. We were getting them on our campus, but we weren’t get them all back for the Showcase. We want this to be a bigger date to try and get as many great players on our campus at the same time.”
Three of USC’s four commitments will be in attendance Saturday. Quarterback Brandon McIlwain, running back C.J. Freeman and wide receiver Bryan Edwards will be counted on to interact with and help recruit other prospects for the Class of 2016.
The time spent with staff and coaches on and off the field is important, too.
“Even the short period of time you have with them, you get a grasp of who they are and what kind of athlete they are, and how they pay attention and how they learn,” Spurrier said. “It’s a good evaluation period even though it’s short.”
The fruits of the weekend are more likely to be seen in the coming weeks and months, but there can always be an on-site commitment or two.
“We hope to come out with a few, but we also just hope the day is great, people enjoy it and see everything we have to offer and go from there,” Spurrier said.
A few names to know who are expected to attend Saturday’s Gamecock Showcase
OL Will Putnam, Harrisburg, N.C.: Might represent USC’s best chance for commitment
OL Akeem Cooperwood, Georgia Military: Gamecocks were first to offer 6-foot-7, 340-pounder
DB J.J. Givens, Mechanicsville, Va.: Has 18 offers, and Gamecocks were first from SEC
WR Brad Hawkins Jr., Camden, NJ: Talented receiver closing in on 30 offers
WR Kyle Davis, Lawrenceville, Ga.: One-time USC commitment returns for important visit