Georgia a 'critical state' for Gamecocks' recruiting

2013 will be third-straight year USC signs more from Georgia than S.C.

dmclemore@thestate.comOctober 5, 2012 

One of South Carolina's top recruits, Mike Davis, was also named co-player of the year for his team during a National Signing Day ceremony held at Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain GA. It was a time of celebration for twenty players and their families. Three of those players, Mike Davis, Carlos Hood and Kyle Fleetwood are joining the South Carolina Gamecocks. STONE MOUNTAIN ,GA,2/1/12

TIM DOMINICK — tdominick@thestate.com

George Rogers, Eric Norwood and Connor Shaw have more in common than the name on the front of their jerseys. All three are Gamecocks who hail from the state of Georgia.

South Carolina has a history of recruiting well in Georgia, and Saturday’s game goes a long way toward keeping that pipeline flowing.

“It definitely makes a lot of noise,” said Steve Spurrier Jr., South Carolina’s receivers coach and recruiting coordinator. “The last two years, to be able to beat them and compete with them and play at that level have certainly helped us recruit.”

South Carolina’s roster boasts 25 from the state of Georgia, and 12 are on the depth chart for Saturday’s showdown with the Bulldogs – Shaw, Kenny Miles, Rory Anderson, T.J. Gurley and Mike Davis among them.

Beating a rival such as Georgia helps in recruiting that state, head coach Steve Spurrier said, but being competitive is just as important. It can be the difference between a prospect thinking, “Either team could have won the game” and “Oh man, those guys never beat them,” he said.

South Carolina has a 3-4 record against the Bulldogs under Spurrier, and five of those games were decided by a touchdown or less.

“They’re going to go where they’re most comfortable or where there’s opportunity to play right away, or fit in,” Spurrier said. “All those kind of things kicks in after that. But you’ve got to be competitive.”

Georgia’s reputation as a recruiting hotbed is on the rise as the state grows in population and challenges the usual recruiting superpowers California, Florida and Texas in producing Division I talent. The Atlanta metro area has more than 5 million residents, more than the entire state of South Carolina (4.68 million).

In the class of 2013, Georgia has the fourth-most prospects (22) in 247Sports’ rankings of the nation’s 247 best recruits, trailing the usual big three states. South Carolina has two in this year’s Top247.

The 2013 recruiting class will mark the third-straight year the Gamecocks will sign more athletes from the Peach State than the Palmetto State. Eight of USC’s 20 commitments are from Georgia. The Gamecocks signed 12 from there in 2012 and 11 in 2011.

“Georgia is like a home state for us,” defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said. “We’ve got a lot of good football players that are contributing from Georgia.”

The expected atmosphere at Williams-Brice Stadium for the No. 6 Gamecocks vs. the No. 5 Bulldogs is a main reason South Carolina is using this weekend’s game as a showcase for recruits across the Southeast.

“Recruiting has changed so much. We spend a good bit of our time right now recruiting 2014 guys,” Spurrier Jr. said. “We’ve made a lot of effort to make sure those guys are here for this game. We’re going to have a lot of really good players here.”

The prospects at the game Saturday are from the Carolinas, Florida and, of course, Georgia.

“Georgia is a critical state for us,” Spurrier Jr. said. “There are so many players in that state. To have an opportunity for those guys to see us play Georgia and to play well certainly means a lot.”

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