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South Carolina recruiting notebook: What OrTre Smith verbal means; remaining targets

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We break down the commitment of the coveted Charleston-area WR.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no big secret that back in December, according to most people, including people who were die-hard Gamecocks, OrTre Smith was a forgone conclusion to Clemson. After all, his mother played volleyball at Clemson, there were inside reports that the initial offer he received from them was a “game changer”, and when the Tigers decided to go after him, most people in the know felt like OrTre was Tiger Town-bound.

My, what a difference a couple months and a little effort make.

While the commitment of OrTre Smith means a great deal for South Carolina in many different respects (including the most important one: on the field) the fact that the Gamecocks were able to reel in a player like Smith, who had strong Clemson connections and that Clemson wanted, is arguably the most positive sign to come out of the best month of recruiting in Gamecock football history.

That being said, I’m sure many of you have already heard the detractors in orange who have said things like, “Clemson didn’t want OrTre anyway” or “Clemson cooled on OrTre” or “Clemson doesn’t even need OrTre.” Put frankly, all of that is BS. Clemson wanted OrTre. Dabo agreed to jump into Lake Hartwell for OrTre. Clemson fans naive (or arrogant) enough to believe that their team doesn’t want or need the number one player in state are disillusioned. Even if Clemson really didn’t want OrTre (which isn’t the case), fine by me. They can keep overlooking in-state kids. Meanwhile, South Carolina rebuilds in-state relationships and wins back the recruiting ground that produced the talent which gave the Gamecocks their best run in school history.

The bottom line is that Muschamp, McClendon and the entire staff started at a disadvantage with OrTre and trailed a program who has been undeniably more successful than South Carolina in the last few years; but instead of accepting what most people deemed as “inevitable”, they worked their tails off, sold what South Carolina has to offer to blue chip guys like OrTre and ultimately beat the Tigers head-to-head for the best player in the Palmetto state. That is absolutely huge and could pay future dividends with the state’s big name guys for 2018. No matter what you hear to the contrary, that’s the truth.

So what’s next?

With the addition of OrTre, the Gamecocks have now reeled in five-straight 4-star prospects. Remember when fans were clamoring and freaking out because “all we do is sign 3-star guys”? Those days are over. The Gamecocks now have a borderline top ten class nationally for 2017 and things could get even better before it is all said and done.

The class is already at 23 commitments, which is a lot at this point in the recruiting cycle. This isn’t totally surprising, as two games into the season it is readily apparent that South Carolina needs to bring in as many quality players as humanly possible. If we can see this, Will Muschamp can as well, so expect the 2017 class to be a larger one than usual as the new staff attempts to create as large a talent base of solid contributors as they can.

Some guys to keep your eyes on going forward:

  • Matthew Butler, a 3-star LB from Tennessee who is reportedly down to the Gamecocks and the Vols. South Carolina feels like it’s in a good spot for him.
  • Johnathan Abrams, a safety and UGA transfer who is now at JUCO. South Carolina is involved with him, and he could be an immediate impact guy in the secondary should he choose the Gamecocks.
  • Brad Johnson, 3-star DE from Pendleton, SC who has been favoring the Gamecocks for some time and has big upside.
  • Chad Terrell, a 3-star WR from Georgia who has named the Gamecocks as his leader. His commitment will come down to whether or not South Carolina decides to take another receiver in the 2017 class.