Phil Kornblut

One of the top players in the country has Gamecocks in top group after decommitment

How Muschamp, USC are dealing with accelerated recruiting landscape

South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp explains how the Gamecocks navigate recruiting now with an early signing period in place.
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South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp explains how the Gamecocks navigate recruiting now with an early signing period in place.

One of the top uncommitted prospects in the country in the 2019 class is Bellflower, Ca., cornerback Chris Steele. The former Southern Cal commitment plans to sign Dec. 19 and will enroll early, but he won’t announce his decision until Jan. 5 at the Army All-American Game. Though he’s staying open for all comers, there is a small group of frontrunners and USC is in it.

Steele took his official visit to South Carolina in June, the week before he visited Southern Cal. He committed to the Trojans in July but Gamecock head coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson continued to recruit him.

“To be honest, they never really left. They were still one of the schools that kept recruiting me all the way through,” Steele said “I’ve been in contact with Coach Muschamp and Coach T-Rob quite a bit. They feel I can come in and have a huge impact on the program. They’re not too deep at my position so they could really use me, and if there’s any interest on my part, they definitely still want me to play for them.”

Steele has also taken official visits to Oklahoma, LSU and Florida. But he said Tuesday night the schools he’s most serious with are USC, Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, Southern Cal, UCLA and Oregon. He has an idea about what will separate one from the rest.

“Just finding a place where I’m going to be developed into the player I want to be, a school that’s going to get me ready to play at the next level,” Steele said. “Somewhere where I’m going to get coached and developed into a better young man and a better player.”

Muschamp and Robinson aren’t alone in working on Steele for the Gamecocks. Quarterback commitment Ryan Hilinski is a good friend and is doing all he can to convince him to come east with him.

“No doubt. I was just with Ryan last Thursday,” Steele said. “He always lets me know how much he wants me to play with him. Me and Ryan have a real good relationship.”

Hilinski, by the way, will be signing his financial aid papers with the Gamecocks on Wednesday afternoon.

Steele’s team, St. John Bosco, is 12-0 ranked No. 1 in the national high school polls. According to stats on MaxPreps, this season Steele has 27 tackles with one interception and 10 passes defended.

Notes:

Wednesday is the first day of the week long signing period for all sports with the exception of football which has its early signing day Dec. 19. However, football players who are graduating from high school early and enrolling in college in January can sign financial aid papers anytime after Aug. 1, and USC quarterback commitment Ryan Hilinski plans to sign his papers Wednesday.

South Carolina has two basketball commitments and is hoping to land a third for this class. Mass., 6-foot-9 Wildens Leveque will sign at 3 p.m. Wednesday and 6-foot-2 Trae Hannibal will sign at 4 p.m. Thursday. The other target for the Gamecocks is 6-foot-5 Gerald Drumgoole. He took official visits to USC and Minnesota.

The USC women will be signing 5-foot-9 Zia Cooke and 6-foot Brea Beal, both ranked among the top 15 players in the country by ESPN. And Wednesday at 6 p.m. 6-foot-3 big Laeticia Amihere will announce for USC, Kentucky or Louisville.

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