South Carolina picked up an elite recruiting class to go along with a team that finished the year No. 8 in the country.
The Gamecocks find themselves in the top 20 of recruiting rankings or right outside: Rivals has them at No. 16, ESPN at No. 17, 247 at No. 19, and last in Scout at No. 21. For most, that would be pretty good news. But in the SEC, that's not going to cut it: as Bud Elliott wrote, its just a different game trying to compete in the toughest conference in the country - and the best at recruiting. Depending on who you ask, South Carolina's conference has three of the top five classes and six of the top ten. That's a tough gauntlet to run.
They didn't get any five-star commits, and missed out on Keith Bryant on Signing Day - not the best results for the Gamecocks - but there's still enough talent in Steve Spurrier's class to keep them in contention.
Top three players:
Mitch is a prototypical pocket passer at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds. He isn't immobile, but his legs won't be the focus of any offensive attack in the SEC. Mitch is very polished, which could help him earn early playing time at the next level. He has a very good arm and a clean, quick release.
South Carolina has had excellent success with undersized, active linebackers. That perfectly describes Bryant. He has excellent instincts, athleticism and speed, but is not very big at 6'1" and 210 pounds. Those attributes should help Bryant to see the field early in special teams, and perhaps some in the base defense as well.
Griffin is an elite prospect by any measure who could have played anywhere in the nation--other than Georgia, apparently. He also fills an important void for Carolina, which had missed on some elite DT prospects, most notably Michael Hill, a local SC product who surprised a lot of people by choosing to play for Urban Meyer at Ohio St. Carolina needed to bring in a guy like Griffin to round out the defensive line talent in this class, and we now have our guy. Welcome to USC, Mr. Griffin.
Top three rival classes: Across the state, Clemson had some of the best recruits in the country, but suffered some huge decommits, although they still ended up with a pretty decent class.
Notes from SB Nation blogs:
This Signing Day Eve tweet from Keith Bryant notwithstanding, the four star defensive tackle ended up signing with Florida State, the program every recruiting analyst expected him to sign with.
To his credit, the Delray Beach star did everything within his power to throw recruitniks off the scent. He openly listed other schools as favorites while still being committed to Miami during the fall. He took a last minute official visit to Florida Atlantic. He got sent home early from a last minute official visit to Florida Atlantic for not taking his last minute official visit to Florida Atlantic very seriously. He tweeted that he couldn't wait to sign his letter of intent with Miami. He subsequently deleted that tweet. He had Kentucky and Southern Cal hats on his table at his announcement this morning.
So where does this leave the Gamecocks? Kelsey Griffin is the only interior defensive lineman to sign with the Gamecocks in the 2013 class. He could have an opportunity to play as a true freshman, depending on how Gerald Dixon, Jr.,Phillip Dukes, and Deon Green develop during their third years in the program.
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