South Carolina’s final push toward National Signing Day begins in earnest next week. Here are five storylines as Will Muschamp and his coaching staff put the finishing touches on their second signing class.
The calendar says a dead period lasts one more week, but “dead” isn’t as ominous as it sounds. It just means coaches and recruits can’t have face-to-face contact. There’s still plenty of communication behind the scenes.
A contact period opens Jan. 12 and kicks off the almost three weeks leading up to signing day, which falls on Feb. 1. Coaches are planning how to divvy their time once they can hit the road to see targets and commitments in person and are finalizing three weekends of on-campus official visits. Muschamp has plenty of in-home visits to make.
Much of the time will be spent on the 2017 class, but the USC staff will do all it can to make strides for the 2018 and 2019 groups.
South Carolina has 22 commits, with attrition a possibility, and is expected to sign a full class of 25. That group has 13 targeted for defense and nine for offense. Ten commits are wide receivers or in the secondary (seven DBs) as USC tries to improve team speed. The remaining targets are predominantly in the trenches.
Six from the class will enroll in January, with defensive end M.J. Webb participating in the on-campus bowl practices.
The class is currently No. 14 in the 247Sports Composite ranking.
The offensive line
The Gamecocks have three commits for the offensive line (Dennis Daley, Summie Carlay and Eric Douglas) and are expected to sign one or two more at the position.
How will the to-be-hired offensive line coach shape the final recruiting board at the position? He’ll have to work quickly to establish relationships with commits and targets. He might bring some new targets who were on his radar at his most recent coaching stop.
The defensive line
Muschamp sounded the call for USC’s need for pass rushers in his Birmingham Bowl postgame news conference. The Gamecocks had 21 sacks in 2016 (tied for 11th in the SEC). That’s comparable to recent seasons, but the pass rush hasn’t been the same since the Clowney years (43 sacks in 2012).
Former USC commit Javon Kinlaw, a junior college defender who’s originally from Goose Creek, remains a top target. The Gamecocks also will try and flip one-time USC commit Devonte Wyatt away from Georgia. Former Alabama pledge Aaron Sterling also is an intriguing option at end.
Look for the Gamecocks to sign two to three more defensive linemen, depending on how numbers work out at other positions. A chance for immediate playing time remains a selling point.
Hold the class
Two of the highest-rated commitments in the class have publicly admitted that they’re keeping their options open.
Cornerback Jamyest Williams (Lawrenceville, Ga.) said he’s 100 percent committed to USC as he locked in an official visit with the home-state Georgia Bulldogs. Safety Hamsah Nasirildeen (Concord, N.C.) called his commitment strength 70 percent, with Florida State still in the picture. Helping the Gamecocks: USC gets the final official visit with Williams. Nasirildeen visited FSU in the fall and has his visit with USC coming up.
Daley (Georgia Military) also plans to visit Georgia State, where former USC O-line coach Shawn Elliott is now in charge.