This weekend turned out to be pretty good for the South Carolina Gamecocks on the recruiting front. And they needed it.
They felt the stinging effects of Steve Spurrier's "two to three more years" comments months ago, the negative recruiting working against them in the loss of several big ticket players. Sure, he had Brandon McIlwain and Bryan Edwards, but there's no doubt that if he had chosen his words more carefully back in December, he would have so much more, and, potentially, much better recruits to add to that list. Kyle Davis, once a Carolina pledge, re-opened his recruitment in May and is thought to be heading toward Auburn; Arden Key flipped from USC to LSU. I probably don't need to continue because you get the point by now.
So, with a big weekend that included the program's first invite-only recruit cookout and the final summer camp session of the season, the HBC went all-out damage control on Wednesday to help salvage what was turning out to be a OK-but-not-great 2016 recruiting cycle.
And it looks like it might be starting to work.
First came Chris Smith, a relative trickle in the faucet but a good pickup from a powerful in-state program that already had his eyes set on Columbia. Then came Akeem Cooperwood, one of the top JUCO offensive linemen in the country and a player that could very well start in 2016. But the icing on the cake was probably two-fold: first, the commitment from Alabama defensive player P.J. Blue (who had USC in the lead), then stud DB Marlon Character slotting USC ahead of Auburn on his top-two list before finally deciding on Carolina. Add that to the reports that Nyles Pinckney, once a strong Clemson lean, may be closer to choosing the Gamecocks as once thought, and a program that was mentioned to be on a downward slop received a boost.
Now, I'm not ready to declare this period a complete success. Far from it. There's still work to do with the Gamecocks still ranking toward the bottom of the 2016 SEC recruiting ratings. It's tough to compete in this league if you have the 12th-ranked recruiting class in the conference...out of thirteen. The damage that has been caused will remain irreparable.
But the past few days have been a start. They aren't where they were before, but they're a lot better off than they were just a few days ago.
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