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An impressive streak quietly will be on the line Wednesday when South Carolina signs its 2014 recruiting class.
The Gamecocks have a chance to finish in Rivals Top 25 for the 10th consecutive season, a recruiting run that started with Steve Spurriers arrival in Columbia.
Whether or not USC can close with its top targets and how other schools finish on National Signing Day will determine the Gamecocks final place in this years rankings.
They dont have one or two guys up there in the top 50 in the country, which would really push the class up higher, said Rivals Southeast recruiting analyst Woody Wommack. Depending on who they fill those last spots with, that could determine whether or not they land in the top 25.
South Carolinas current Top 25 streak started when Spurrier was hired in late 2004 and put his stamp on the 2005 class. The Gamecocks are joined by Alabama, LSU, Florida, Georgia and Auburn as SEC teams with Top 25 recruiting classes in each of the past nine seasons. All six schools are in position to continue that for 2014.
The Gamecocks stand at No. 25 in Rivals rankings as the week begins. Outside of a No. 6 finish in the 2007 recruiting rankings, No. 20 is USCs average spot on the final list.
Thats, basically, what theyve had every year, said Keith Niebuhr, a national analyst for 247Sports. The coaches know whether its a good class or not. Clearly, theyre identifying players that fit what they do, and theyre not looking for a class thats got to be earth-shattering.
Where USC finishes in the recruiting rankings is not a top concern, said Steve Spurrier Jr., USCs recruiting coordinator.
We try not to sell a lot of champions of signing day, Spurrier Jr. said. A little bit of its important. You need to make a little bit of splash with this player or that player. We have to be able to identify what our needs are and go get solid, tough, hard-nosed players that can play the game. We dont spend a lot time evaluating where Rivals has us ranked.
The fact that USC could finish in the top 25 didnt seem possible last summer when the team was expected to sign 15 or so players in this class. The Gamecocks had four early NFL entrants and four players transfer, and the need to sign more cornerbacks arose. The class is now expected to number around 20.
Class quantity and individual player ratings drive a schools ranking up or down, and every network has its formula for figuring out the weight and importance of those factors.
In Rivals view, USC at No. 25 is ranked ahead of Wisconsin, Nebraska and N.C. State, despite those schools having as many as 13 more commitments. The Gamecocks, with 17 pledges, fare better because of a higher average player rating.
USC also is No. 23 in 247Sports Composite Top 25, which factors in all networks. Niebuhr described USCs class as solid with a chance to finish inside the top 20 with a strong finish.
Theyre getting guys that fit what they do and guys that are potential difference-makers, Niebuhr said. Donell Stanley can be a difference-maker. Shaq Davidson? You better believe that he can be a difference-maker. There are guys in there that can elevate a class down the road.
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