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 Saturdays game goes a long way toward keeping that pipeline flowing.
It definitely makes a lot of noise, said Steve Spurrier Jr., South Carolinas 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 Carolinas roster boasts 25 from the state of Georgia, and 12 are on the depth chart for Saturdays 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.
Theyre going to go where theyre most comfortable or where theres opportunity to play right away, or fit in, Spurrier said. All those kind of things kicks in after that. But youve got to be competitive.
Georgias 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 nations 247 best recruits, trailing the usual big three states. South Carolina has two in this years 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 USCs 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. Weve 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 weekends 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. Weve made a lot of effort to make sure those guys are here for this game. Were 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.