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South Carolina is building its best recruiting class ever by relying upon out-of-state talent

It's too early to call the Gamecocks a national recruiting power, but they sure are looking like one in 2015.

It wasn't so long ago that every broadcast of a South Carolina game was interrupted with a graphic explaining that the Gamecocks' recent success was owed to their ability to keep the best players in the Palmetto State away from poachers like Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee. So it may come as a surprise to some that South Carolina is assembling what could be its best-ever recruiting class by relying almost exclusively on out-of-state talent.

Consider the following map:

Shameik Blackshear is the only one of the Gameoccks' 18 commitments who hails from the state of South Carolina. And, really, Bluffton is BARELY on the right side of the Georgia-South Carolina border.

As the overall talent quality in S.C. has dipped over the past several years, Steve Spurrier and his recruiting staff have increasingly relied upon out-of-state talent to fill out their classes, but the 2015 cycle represents a new extreme.

State Number of Signees Percentage of Class
South Carolina 1 5.56
Georgia 6 33.33
North Carolina 3 16.67
Alabama 2 11.11
Florida 1 5.56
Louisiana 1 5.56
Maryland 1 5.56
Pennsylvania 1 5.56
Virginia 1 5.56
Missouri 1 5.56
State Number of Signees Percentage of Class
South Carolina 9 42.86
Georgia 5 23.81
Florida 4 19.05
Alabama 1 4.76
Kansas 1 4.76
Texas 1 4.76
State Number of Signees Percentage of Class
South Carolina 4 18.18
Georgia 7 29.17
North Carolina 4 18.18
Florida 4 18.18
Alabama 1 4.17
Maryland 1 4.17
Pennsylvania 1 4.17
State Number of Signees Percentage of Class
South Carolina 4 14.81
Georgia 12 44.44
North Carolina 4 14.81
Florida 4 14.81
New Jersey 1 3.70
Pennsylvania 1 3.70
Virginia 1 3.70
State Number of Signees Percentage of Class
South Carolina 10 30.30
Georgia 11 33.33
Florida 5 15.15
New Jersey 3 9.09
North Carolina 2 6.06
Virginia 2 6.06

Outside of quality variance in the talent-dense but comparatively small Palmetto State, what's going on here? Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina are always going to combine to make up at least half of USC's recruiting classes. So that's not new. What we're seeing in 2015 is G.A. Mangus' efforts in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast finally start to pay off in addition to increased returns from the western portion of the SEC's footprint.

So is South Carolina a national recruiting power now?

Maybe. Though the book isn't even closed yet on the 2015 class -- and who knows at this point what 2016 will bring -- this is certainly a first step in the right direction. The Gamecocks will need to close strong in 2015 and repeat this effort a few more times over before we can say with any certainty.

We can be sure of at least one thing, though. Very few teenagers who happen to be quite good at football are old enough to remember the South Carolina program that was more-or-less satisfied with earning Independence Bowl bids. Obviously, there's a lot more that goes into building a good recruiting class outside of doing impressive things on national television, but it's not a bad place to start.