Boom! 5 takeaways from South Carolina's impressive Early Signing Period haul
Despite the turmoil surrounding coach Will Muschamp’s future at South Carolina, the Gamecocks got several huge wins Wednesday.
Not only did they hold their recruiting class together early in the morning, they improved it when local 5-star defensive end Jordan Burch announced he would play there.
Entering Wednesday, the Gamecocks were ranked No. 8 in the SEC and No. 20 in the country by the 247Sports Composite. By mid-morning, they had 6 4-star recruits sign, most notably RB MarShawn Lloyd and QB Luke Doty.
The jumped to No. 17 nationally after Burch’s commitment, along with other additions on the first day of Early Signing Period.
Here are 5 takeaways from the first day players in the class of 2020 could sign:
The Burch bombshell
Seen as somewhat of an underdog against Georgia, LSU, Alabama and Clemson, South Carolina pulled off the biggest get of the first day of the Early Signing Period to land Burch. He was the No. 5 player in the country, the No. 2 defensive end and the No. 1 player in the state out of Columbia, S.C., as his high school, Hammond, is a few miles from South Carolina’s campus.
During an interview on the ESPNU broadcast, Burch said each visit to campus felt like a home visit.
“I love the coaching staff, I love the people there, it’s in town, I don’t think I could’ve made a better decision,” Burch said, adding that he considered leaving town. “But then I came to the conclusion that this is the place for me. They’re going to get a hard worker, a kid who doesn’t take plays off, I’m going to encourage my teammates and I’ll play as hard as they need me to play.”
Burch said his teammate at Hammond, QB Jackson Muschamp, the son of Will Muschamp, didn’t have much input in his recruitment.
“He really didn’t say much, he just lets me decide, I haven’t heard much from him,” Burch said. “He’s a good friend and I like his dad. He’s a good coach. I see that the program is rebuilding, that’s one reason why I chose South Carolina, and I feel like he has good plans for me. I respect him as a man.”
#SpursUp!!!! South Carolina lands 5-⭐️ DE Jordan Burch over LSU, Georgia, Alabama and Clemson.
Burch is the No. 5 player in the country, according to 247Sports Composite.
BIG-TIME 🐔🐔🐔 #Gamecocks pic.twitter.com/NBgCnkE4JV
— James (@GamecockSplash) December 18, 2019
Facilities paid off
In this era, it’s a matter of academic, mental health and all-encompassing off-the-field support well beyond the old-fashioned weight room. Burch’s decision will help create a ripple effect and snowball to other recruits, in part combined with the facilities upgrade.
For perspective, Burch is the 2nd 5-star defensive lineman in as many years to sign with South Carolina after DT Zacch Pickens a year ago. Both are in-state players and it recalls a time when South Carolina got a slew of in-state players who helped create the glory days of the Steve Spurrier era. Players like Alshon Jeffery, Jadeveon Clowney, Stephon Gilmore and Marcus Lattimore all came within a short window and elected to stay in state.
The $50 million Long Family Operations Center, which opened in the last year, is proof that upgrading facilities will lead to blue-chip recruits.
“The Long Center puts us at the forefront of facilities in college football,” Muschamp said when it opened. “It shows a commitment from the university to future student-athletes, as well as the student-athletes we currently have on campus.”
Lloyd is first signature of the day
Lloyd had a largely drama-free recruitment, especially for a player of his caliber, as he stuck with the Gamecocks even through the sub-par season.
He’s ranked No. 39 in the country overall, and the No. 7 running back in this class and had offers from many of the SEC heavyweights, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame. The 5-9, 211-pound running back is expected to get a chance for notable playing time in 2020. He’s from Hyattsville, Md. (DeMatha Catholic) and even left his high school in order to graduate early and start his career in Columbia.
The fact that he was the first signature to arrive after all of that says a lot about him and his decision to join the program.
Jaheim Bell makes it official
A 3-star recruit from Valdosta, Ga., Jaheim Bell was long considered a South Carolina lean, especially after he decommitted from Florida in July. But he also took an official visit to Oklahoma, and Florida State was reportedly in the mix. He can play multiple positions but is expected to get a first look at tight end.
Bell is listed at 6-4, 210 pounds and is recovering from an ACL injury. He’s ranked the No. 17 tight end in the country in the 247Sports Composite. Bell is the No. 384 player in the 247 Sports composite rankings. He’s rated as the 40th-best player in Georgia and had offers from Alabama and Auburn.
Muschamp’s long history with Bell’s high school coach is one reason the commitment paid off as their relationship dates to the 1990s.
The Burch and Bell announcements offered a glimpse into modern-day recruiting where players aren’t as turned off by losing seasons as middle-aged fans who look up the buyout of a coach and post it on a message board. If there’s a plan in place, and a chance to play early with an academic foundation and a path to the NFL, recruiting will pay off in the end.
Now the next step is for the re-tooled coaching staff to take these top-shelf recruits and help them develop into difference makers that lead to wins. But coming off a 4-8 season, this kind of class, with a 5-star and 7 4-star recruits, is a sign of the times that the most recent win-loss record isn’t necessarily a glimpse at how the recruiting scene will look.
Cover photo via @GamecockFB