The recent commitment of Shamiek Blackshear brought up a conversation regarding the players we've missed out on from the Lowcountry. This got me thinking about some of those players.
The two who come to mind most quickly are Carlos Dunlap and A.J. Green, who went to Florida and Georgia, respectively. Both were high five-star players who ended up having excellent careers at their respective schools and going high in the NFL Draft. We pursued both highly and seemed to be in good position to land them at different points in the recruiting processes, but both ultimately elected to sign with more highly regarded programs--at the time, much more highly regarded programs. It goes without saying that they could have made a major difference for us. Just imagine the receiving corps on the 2010 team with Green in tow.
I'm not really sure why we've struggled in the region. I've heard friends say that they're not surprised about it because so many of the residents in the area now are from up north and the Gamecocks just don't have great visibility. That of course probably doesn't account for much of the issue; it may seem like everyone is an Ohio St. fan in Charleston, but USC alums still hold a sizable predominance in numbers. It's more likely that the problem is that our coaches haven't made great inroads with the high-school coaches in the area.
I also wonder if the perception of our recruiting in the Lowcountry suffers from recency bias. Yes, Blackshear is the first can't-miss prospect from the area in recent years who hasn't spurned USC for supposedly greener pastures, but this was true of other regions, too, until recent years. Just because we've gotten some big-time prospects from Spartanburg and Rock Hill recently certainly doesn't mean we've historically owned those areas. We should also remember that we have brought in some good players from the area over the past few years, such as Bruce Ellington and Devin Taylor.
In any event, Blackshear is merely the latest in a long-line of elite talent to come out of the Lowcountry. Here's hoping that he's starting a trend by coming to Carolina.