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What Hamsah Nasirildeen’s flip means for South Carolina’s 2017 class

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What the big safety’s flip to FSU signals for the Gamecocks in the week before signing day

Massachusetts v South Carolina Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images

South Carolina’s 2017 recruiting class took a massive hit last night when the top-ranked player in North Carolina, 4-star safety Hamsah Nasirildeen, announced he was flipping his commitment to Florida State just over a week before signing day.

Losing Nasirildeen is absolutely brutal for the Gamecocks for a variety of reasons:

  • Not only was he one of the highest-rated players in the class, but he was going to fill, arguably, the biggest position of need on the roster for the Gamecocks. Safety play at South Carolina has been abysmal the last few seasons and Nasirildeen had the makeup to solidify that key position in the secondary for the next several years. His ceiling is ridiculously high.
  • He had been committed to the Gamecocks since August and had just come off of an official visit in Columbia, where the inside scoop was that he had solidified his commitment. His flip is a blindsiding one for South Carolina.
  • At the time of his commitment in August, Nasirildeen signaled the first big win for Muschamp and Co. on the recruiting trail. It was a huge boost to Gamecock Nation just before the season and seemed to show that the new staff could bring top-level talent to Carolina despite our record in 2015. This flip undoes a great deal of that positive momentum that his original commitment created for the Gamecocks.
  • It has been reported that Hamsah and Jamyest Williams talked regularly about how they wanted to come and be the future of the secondary at South Carolina. With the strength of Jamyest’s pledge already somewhat in question, this certainly isn’t going to help the Gamecocks in their quest to keep him in the fold. Georgia will use this in the coming days to attempt to sway Williams away, just wait.
  • Losing a player like Nasirildeen this close to signing day, after holding him for months, hurts the perception of the program and undermines the message that South Carolina wants to signal to other high-level recruits. You want to be building steam heading into February 1. This has the exact opposite effect for the Gamecocks as signing day draws near.
  • Having Nasirildeen committed was a big help for South Carolina in its pursuit of big-time 2018 defensive lineman Rick Sandidge, who was high school teammates with Nasirildeen in Concord, NC and is supposedly leaning the Gamecocks’ way. It remains to be seen where Sandidge will end up, but that connection helping the Gamecocks is gone now.

So, yeah, no sunshine pumping here: this one hurts for South Carolina. Expect the recruiting class ranking to drop a good bit across all platforms. But where do the Gamecocks go from here?

NCAA Football: Miami at North Carolina
Expect the Gamecocks to make a hard push for Mike Hughes with Hamsah Nasirildeen’s flip to FSU.
Evan Pike-USA TODAY Sports

Firstly, expect the Gamecocks to make a hard push now for JUCO cornerback Mike Hughes, who was on campus this weekend for an official visit. It remains to be seen whether Hughes will be able to ultimately come to an SEC school due to an issue that took place while he was at UNC, but regardless, expect to see the full court press on him - or possibly some other defensive back - in the coming days, as the coaches attempt to fill Hamsah’s spot.

Secondly, if you’re Will Muschamp and Travaris Robinson, you absolutely have to do whatever you can to keep Jamyest Williams in the boat. A flip from Jamyest was always going to hurt, but the thought process was that if Nasirildeen was solid, even if South Carolina lost Williams to Georgia, the Gamecocks would be alright. Now that the seemingly more secure commit has flipped, it’s absolutely imperative that the staff holds onto Williams, for positive momentum and perception if nothing else. Obviously Jamyest is ridiculously talented and they need cornerbacks, but the psychological impact of losing him and Hamsah in the final home stretch of the recruiting cycle would be a dagger to a hopeful program and fan base that, honestly, needs anything positive to cling to right now. A Williams flip could potentially drop the Gamecocks’ class out of the Top 25 in the nation. They have to secure him in the next week and sell him on being “the guy” in Columbia.

It is also important to note that Nasirildeen was not the only safety prospect the Gamecocks added in the 2017 class. There are still several players, notably Keisean Nixon, Kaleb Chalmers and Jaylin Dickerson, that the staff is high on at that spot, who could still very well end up being great players for the Gamecocks in the safety spot.

Either way, though, losing a player of Nasirildeen’s caliber this late in the game is a killer for South Carolina. It hurts momentum and it is never fun to see guys jump ship this close to signing day, especially when they are one of the cornerstones of your class. The bottom line is that if the Gamecocks, as a program, want to get back to the level they were at from 2010-2013, landing - and holding onto - players like Nasirildeen is the only way to do it. Obviously, the more they win, the easier it will become for this staff to keep the top-tier talent they have committed from being swayed in the final stages like this, but regardless, letting a potential difference maker like Hamsah slip away is a gut punch for the fan base and will be a a tough pill to swallow for the staff as well.