Spurrier charm (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday January 30, 2007 12:56PM; Updated: Tuesday February 6, 2007 10:01PM
Especially a playmaker with the skills of Culliver. The 6-foot, 190-pounder, who also played defensive back in high school, has been clocked at 4.28 in the 40 and gives Spurrier speed he hasn't had since his days at Florida when Jacquez Green and Reidel Anthony were in the slot for the Gators. "That's the type of player [Culliver] is," Shurburtt said. "He can change a game in an instant."
Culliver could be an immediate impact player for Spurrier, who is looking to fill the void left when wideout Sidney Rice bolted early for the NFL.
In Matthews, the Gamecocks landed the nation's third-ranked weakside defensive end. The 6-foot-4, 223-pounder opted to stay in his home state with S.C., even though he was heavily favoring Georgia at one point. "[He's] a big, athletic defensive end. He's a pass rusher. He can come off the end and cause a lot of havoc," Shurburtt said. "I really like him a lot."
While Reaves, defensive line coach Brad Lawing and defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix were all part of the collective effort to bring Matthews to Columbia, it was Spurrier who may have been most influential. Matthews was one of Spurrier's personal targets, a player he reportedly recruited harder than any non-quarterback in his coaching career.
According to The State, following the Gamecocks' 24-17 home loss to Auburn, Spurrier told Matthews they "were one defensive end from winning that game" and Matthews was sold. He could see immediate playing time on a line that may be among the nation's best.
The Gamecocks' haul has also been helped by their ability to recruit in North Carolina. Seven of South Carolina's recruits hail from the Tar Heel State, including three four-star pledges in Robertson, wide receiver Jason Barnes and linebacker Melvin Ingram.
"I've always felt like it's important for South Carolina and Clemson to recruit the state of North Carolina well," Shurburtt said. "South Carolina is a small state and you have to divide the prospects up between the two major schools. But North Carolina is a larger state and a gold mine."
As key as approach and tactics have been in improving the Gamecocks' recruiting, there's also no denying the draw of Spurrier himself. In turning down overtures from both Alabama and Miami he made a statement that he's willing to build S.C. into a contender.
"That was huge because Miami and Alabama are synonymous with college football and any time you see an icon like Steve Spurrier say, 'No, I don't want to go and be a part of those programs - I'd rather stay here,' that sort of validates your program," Shurburtt said. "I think that was a very big factor."
Is it a big enough factor to help propel the Gamecocks to their first SEC title? Time will tell, but Spurrier and South Carolina are off to a good start.