South Carolina’s spring football game Saturday will be provide one last evaluation opportunity for Will Muschamp and his staff.
Behind the scenes, the day is a final spring showcase for the Gamecocks’ recruiting efforts.
“Any time you have an event like this, it’s recruiting. It really is,” wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon said. “You have another opportunity to show off your campus, show off your fan base. That has to be taken very seriously. It’s going to be a big part of Saturday.”
Dozens of prospects from the 2017 and 2018 classes, and beyond, will be on hand Saturday at Williams-Brice as the Gamecocks wrap up the spring around a day filled with fanfare and football.
Those in attendance will get a glimpse of the gameday atmosphere.
“We need a huge crowd,” Muschamp said. “We’re going to have a bunch of recruits here and they need to see how loyal our fan base is and how passionate our fans are.”
Muschamp has been recruiting, literally, since the day he arrived on campus in December. The seeds of the spring efforts were planted in January, when the new USC coach and his staff worked ahead as much as they could toward the 2017 and 2018 classes.
The more exposure a young man has to the University of South Carolina, sees what we have to offer, it’s going to be hard for him to tell us no.
A junior day was held shortly after National Signing Day. That gave way to the spring, where practices and the days in between workouts have featured a steady stream of prospects visiting the USC campus with their families or high school coaches.
“Most of the spring breaks are done. A lot of young men nowadays are traveling and seeing multiple schools during a time period,” Muschamp said. “Until we start hitting the camp circuit in June, this will be one of the last shots we have to get them back on campus. It’s huge. It’s huge for them to see a passionate fan base and to see what we’re all about, the direction of the program and where we’re headed.”
The Gamecocks received five commitments in March (including now-2016 prospect Jake Bentley) and two more so far in April. The in-progress 2017 class ranks No. 19 nationally, according to 247Sports’ Composite ranking that factors in all networks.
Muschamp’s assistants will hit the road starting next week to check in on prospects at their schools during an evaluation period that lasts from April 15 through May 31. It’s a time when additional offers will be extended and leads to the next critical phase on the recruiting calendar: summertime unofficial visits and the football program’s busy slate of on-campus camps in June and July.
Nothing is more important, Muschamp said, than getting prospects on USC’s campus.
“At the end of the day it’s all about relationships,” Muschamp said. “The more you’re around someone, the more you get to know them, the more you get to know what they’re about. That’s a two-way street, from a recruit and a coach. The more exposure a young man has to the University of South Carolina, sees what we have to offer, it’s going to be hard for him to tell us no.”
2016 Garnet and Black Spring Game
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium
When: Noon Saturday
Cost: Free admission
TV: SEC Network (Bob Wischusen, Mack Brown, Shannon Spake)
Radio: 107.5 FM in the Columbia area
Also: Beginning at 11 a.m., more than 100 former Gamecock lettermen will take part in a flag football game on the north end of Williams-Brice Stadium. The football alumni will be introduced at halftime, and will participate in an hour-long autograph session on the field following the game and the playing of the alma mater.