The life blood of every college football program is recruiting. It allows the top teams to sustain success, and it builds the foundation for a program on the rise. As they look to compete with powerhouse programs around them, the Gamecocks’ recruiting has become even more of a focus. This year’s national signing day in February was met with a little less fanfare than usual. This is because the NCAA instituted an early signing period in December for the first time. Most teams had their classes put together before the turn of the year.
Gamecocks’ 2018 Recruiting Class
The South Carolina Gamecocks were no different. They have continued to raise their recruiting profile in each of the three cycles with Will Muschamp as head coach. The 2018 class will be their best a deepest class yet. With the classes now signed, sealed and delivered, we take a look at the Gamecocks’ recruiting, and where they helped themselves the most.
Securing the Line
Football is won in the trenches. Being able to control a game at the line of scrimmage is the biggest advantage a team can have. The Gamecock’s recruiting for the 2018 cycle certainly put a focus on strengthening each line. South Carolina signed five offensive lineman and four more on the defensive line in this cycle. The headliners both signed during February, with four star prospects Jovaughn Gwyn, Dylan Wonnum, and Rick Sandidge joining the program. Each of these young men have the size and ability to make an immediate impact once they arrive on campus. They won’t be the only freshman who should contribute along the line of scrimmage though.
Hank Manos, from Chapin, is an early enrollee and should get a chance to compete for the starting center position. Manos was an Under Armor All-American and an All-State wrestler as well. With Alan Knott graduating, the Gamecocks will need someone to step up at center. Manos will certainly be given the chance to grab that role.
On the defensive side, early enrollee Kingsley Enagbare could step in and contribute right away. The four star defensive end from Atlanta has the size, 6’4” 255lbs, and the athleticism to make an impact from day one. Each of these young men will get a head start by participating in spring practice. This should accelerate their learning curve and have them better prepared for their freshman seasons.
South Carolina will return most of its offensive production in 2018. They do lose multiple defensive seniors whose contributions will not easily be replaced. Looking at the Gamecocks’ recruiting this cycle you can tell where their needs were greatest. Will Muschamp needed to add depth and speed to his secondary, and he did just that. Jaycee Horn, Jonathon Gipson, R.J. Roderick, and Israel Mukuamu will all look to jump into the rotation in the secondary.
Jaycee Horn, son of former NFL star Joe Horn, is the highest rated defensive back in this class. Mukuamu should also be able to make some early contributions, at 6’5” 190 pounds he brings an element of size that the South Carolina secondary hasn’t had in a few years. He is another early enrollee that will get the benefit of spring practice. Linebacker Rosendo Louis could also see the field sooner rather than later in Columbia.
While Coach Muschamp’s team returns most of its production on offense, there is always room for skill players to make an immediate difference. Receiver Josh Vann is the highest rated recruit at the skill positions. Another early enrollee, he will look to use spring practice as a chance to learn the offense and work his way into a crowded receiver rotation. Athlete Bryce Thompson from Dutch Fork has the explosiveness and skill to see he field early if he can qualify academically. Quarterback Dakereon Joyner was named South Carolina’s Mr Football this past year. He will add to the depth under center and look to push returning starter Jake Bentley in both the spring and the fall. Joyner brings athleticism and big play ability to the position, and could develop into a big time play maker while in Columbia.
Gamecocks’ Recruiting, Building Each Year
The Gamecocks two biggest rivals were in the College Football Playoff last season. As South Carolina tries to put itself in contention for conference championships and beyond, building a talent filled roster is key. The Gamecocks’ recruiting has taken a step forward in each of Coach Muschamp’s three cycles. It can be hard to gauge a class’ impact until the kids have all gotten a chance to see the field and contribute. On paper though it appears that South Carolina is building its roster, adding depth and talent to a young returning core. Combined with the players who red-shirted last year, this Gamecocks’ recruiting class could help this program continue the improvements made since Will Muschamp arrived.