When I last wrote about the roster management acrobatics that our coaching staff would need to complete in order to comply with NCAA-mandated roster limits*, there were far more unknowns than knowns, the biggest concerns being that we didn't know how many upperclassmen would be leaving for the NFL or how many players would be in the 2012 recruiting class. While I still have no idea how we're going to trim our roster to 84 by fall practice (we're voluntarily forfeiting one of the usual 85 as part of our self-imposed sanctions), those two questions have been - for the most part - answered.
Though I write this with still a day and a half remaining for underclassmen to enter the NFL draft, I feel confident in saying that Devin Taylor, D.J. Swearinger, and DeVonte Holloman will honor their commitments to return for their senior seasons, leaving Alshon Jeffery and Stephon Gilmore as the only players leaving early for the NFL draft.
Eric Baker (RB), Martay Mattox (CB), Corey Addison (SS) have decided to transfer out of the program. The latest word from Steve Spurrier was that he expected Kenny Miles to return for his senior season after strong showings in the Clemson and Nebraska games, but we'll see how the addition of the fifth-best running back prospect in the country affects those plans.
Doing the Math
We began the 2011 season with 85 players on scholarship (minus Stephen Garcia equals 84). 84 - 12 players exhausting eligibility - 2 leaving early for the NFL draft - 3 transferring = 67 players on scholarship or 17 free scholarships.
Between the three early enrollees (Brock Stadnik, OT; Clayton Stadnik, C; and Kelvin Rainey, H-Back) and the 21 players who have made verbal commitments to signe letters of intent with the Gamecocks, the 2012 recruiting class is sitting at 24. The coaching staff is pursuing four star WR Quinshad Davis as the final member of the class.**
Including the possibility that Kenny Miles decides to leave and that we add a 25th player to the 2012 recruiting class, we'll need to make room for anywhere between 6 and 8 players. Where will those scholarships come from? Some ideas:
- Kenny Miles may ultimately decide to leave the program.
- RB commit Kendric Salley is recovering from knee surgery and may end up grayshirting.
- DE commit Jhaustin Thomas is thought to have a difficult road ahead if he is going to qualify.
- Bruce Ellington could elect to play basketball only next season.
*On Saturday, NCAA board of directors voted against a proposal to reduce football scholarships from 85 to 80.
**South Carolina was his leader when the recruiting process began, but we didn't offer until late in the game because we weren't sure what would happen with Tyriq McCord and Elijah Shumate, who eventually decided to go elsewhere. At this point, it doesn't look like Quinshad will be able to make it for an official visit, but he's been on campus unofficially on a number of occasions.