1. The class is almost done again
South Carolina is sitting on 20 commitments with National Signing Day more than four months away. The Gamecocks got there a bit faster than last year: USC had 18 commitments through June, twice the number of pledges it had at the same time in 2011.
The Gamecocks last year had more than 70 percent of their total class committed before the football season began. They topped that again this year in the new, sped-up recruiting world.
Under self-imposed sanctions, USC is limited to 22 signees this class and for 2014 (instead of the SEC maximum of 25). The Gamecocks could go several players beyond 22 if some of the 2013 targets enroll in January and count back to the previous class. The 2012 signees numbered 25, but three did not qualify academically.
Recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier Jr. said USC is pursuing five or six players the hardest for those final few spots.
It saves a little bit of going into the fall and recruiting 70 guys for 20 spots, he said.
2. The top of the class is strong
South Carolina has four consensus four-star prospects committed: linebacker Larenz Bryant (6-1, 210, Charlotte, N.C.); cornerback Brendan Langley (6-1, 180, Marietta, Ga.); linebacker Matt Rolin (6-4, 220, Ashburn, Va.); and offensive lineman D.J. Park (6-6, 315, Dillon). Raleigh quarterback Connor Mitch has four stars from three of the major recruiting services.
The class as a whole is 16th nationally, according to the 247Sports Composite ranking from the four major recruiting services. Bryant is the highest-rated prospect in the class, at No. 54 nationally from 247Sports and No. 91 in the 247Sports Composite ranking.
Two have been invited to national all-star games (Bryant to the U.S. Army All American Bowl; Rolin to the Under Armour game).
Im really long. Im tall. Im versatile, Rolin said. I play inside and outside. I play that position fast. I can cover and I can also blitz if they need me to. I play it real well.
USC has eight four-star prospects, 11 with three stars and one with two stars, according to 247Sports.
3. The class is loaded with defense
Fourteen of USCs 20 pledges are targeted for defense in college. Four of the six offensive prospects are on the line. In addition to Mitch, the Gamecocks have a commitment from Neptune Beach, Fla., running back Jamari Smith. USC is done at the quarterback spot but could still add another lineman and a skill player or two.
Several of the current committed prospects including Jacksonville, Fla., athlete Jasper Sasser and Havelock, N.C., defensive back Pharoh Cooper are offensive stars in high school but expected to make the switch to defense in college.
They told me I could play receiver, running back or safety, whichever one they need me at the most, Sasser said. Ive got a hunch theyre going to play me a DB a lot. I prefer offense. I love offense because I love making plays and getting in the end zone.
4. Top instate talent going elsewhere this year
Unless someone changes his mind, South Carolina will miss out on the top three instate prospects in this recruiting class. Goose Creek receiver Tramel Terry is committed to Georgia, while Pendleton defensive tackle Michael Hill pledged to Ohio State. Lake Marion receiver Mike Williams picked Clemson over the Gamecocks.
USC has pledges from Goose Creek defensive end Gerald Turner, as well as Dillon offensive linemen D.J. Park and Bryce King.
Recruiting analysts say this instate class isnt as strong as the ones in recent years that produced such standouts as Jadeveon Clowney, Stephon Gilmore and Marcus Lattimore. They project 2014 to be a stronger group for the Palmetto State.
I dont think the numbers are as large as theyve been some years, Spurrier Jr. said. But its still a good year and a good class instate.
5. Shawn Elliott leads the way
Offensive line coach Shawn Elliott gets the nod for top recruiter in this class.
Elliott was the recruiter of record for three of the consensus four-star prospects (Bryant, Rolin and Park). Elliott also recruited King and Rockingham, N.C., defensive end Devante Covington.
He tells it how it is, Rolin said of Elliott. Hes good at convincing people to come here. I think hes a great guy and a real good recruiter. He brought in a lot of good guys.