Landing local, 5-star DE Jordan Burch is exactly what Will Muschamp needed
Note: This article was published after Burch took part in a signing ceremony indicating he signed with South Carolina. The program has not yet announced receiving Burch’s signed Letter of Intent making him a Gamecock.
Much like the majority of his recruitment, Jordan Burch ultimately avoided the drama — though it wasn’t as lockstep as other announcements.
First, there was the name tent on Wednesday with his name and the “University of South Carolina” at his table at Hammond High School, where he signed alongside other future Gamecocks.
Then, mere feet away, was coach Will Muschamp, who was at another table with his son, Jackson, who announced he would be a preferred walk-on at Georgia.
So despite the late visit to LSU last month, Burch made official what many expected since December, when he committed to Muschamp’s program.
“For the next three or four years, I’ll be with my friends,” said Burch, a clear reference to Hammond’s Alex Huntley, Fabian Goodman and Bradley Dunn who are also coming to South Carolina next year. Burch has largely deflected attention, outside of his two announcement days, even though he’s one of the more talked-about recruits in the Southeast, if not the country.
Burch declined interviews Wednesday and would only confirm that he sent his national letter of intent into a school.
A legendary former Gamecock, Corey Miller, seemed to applaud that approach.
— Corey Miller (@pastorofpain) February 5, 2020
In December, Burch said he tries to model his game after NFL pass rushers Julius Peppers and Khalil Mack. He also holds Muschamp in high regard.
The 6-5, 275-pounder ranks is the No. 8 overall prospect and No. 2 defensive tackle in the 2020 recruiting cycle. Clemson, Georgia and Alabama also were believed to be the other teams most involved.
“The program is rebuilding. That’s one of the reasons I chose South Carolina,” he said. “I feel like (Muschamp) has good plans for me. I respect him as a man.”
With Clemson, and to a lesser degree Georgia, electing for a more national recruiting approach, the Gamecocks have taken advantage of in-state talent from an underrated state history for recruiting.
Gamecocks fans know about the all-time players like Jadeveon Clowney, Alshon Jeffery, Stephon Gilmore who chose to stay home and play at Williams-Brice Stadium. But South Carolina also produced the likes of A.J. Green and DeAndre Hopkins. The list of in-state stars who got away is consistent and extends decades, from Josh Norman and Johnathan Joseph, to John Abraham and William Perry.
The Gamecocks have landed 8 of the top 11 players from South Carolina this cycle, a year after they got 4 of the top 11 in 2019.
But Burch was the biggest star, the biggest get since Clowney.
In the modern recruiting era of rankings, Burch, a 5-star defensive end, is the 2nd-highest rated player to sign with South Carolina after Clowney in 2011. The announcement offered some relief for Gamecocks fans still reeling from a 4-8 regular season and the first postseason absence since 2015.
Muschamp understands that to beat the SEC East powers like Georgia and Florida, and other annual opponents like Texas A&M, along with Clemson, the Gamecocks need players like Burch. For example, a main factor in the Georgia upset was the pass rush against Jake Fromm. This is the second consecutive class where Muschamp has landed a 5-star defensive lineman, which college football observers often cite as what separates the SEC from other conferences.
In December, Muschamp described signing a pass rusher as “critical for us.”
“You have to get more of an edge presence,” Muschamp said.
To show his importance to the program, even with Burch committed, the Gamecocks pulled out every recruiting trick in the book. They sent Muschamp, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, tight ends coach Bobby Bentley, QB Ryan Hilinski and freshman defensive lineman Joe Anderson to Hammond for Burch’s Friday night basketball game. Burch then made his official visit to campus for the rest of the weekend.
The table is set for the program, especially on the defensive line, from the perspective of talent and skill on paper.
Now Muschamp and Co. must go out and turn it into significant wins.