Led by Ol' Ball coach, South Carolina hauls in top class
Posted: Tuesday January 30, 2007 12:56PM; Updated: Tuesday February 6, 2007 10:01PM
The whispers were that Steve Spurrier couldn't recruit the kind of talent to enable South Carolina to compete in the SEC. But with his third recruiting class, the Ol' Ball Coach is debunking that misconception.
"Anyone who thought Steve Spurrier couldn't recruit, I think they're sadly mistaken," Rivals.com recruiting analyst J.C. Shurburtt said.
Spurrier has put together arguably the best recruiting class South Carolina has ever had despite not playing for an SEC title or cracking the Top 10 in either of Spurrier's two seasons in Columbia.
The Gamecocks currently have the No. 7-ranked class in Rivals.com's team rankings after finishing 24th and 23rd, respectively, in the last two years and have surpassed the 2003 class, which was the highest-rated in school history at No. 8. "This is the best recruiting class the University of South Carolina has had since they joined the SEC," Shurburtt said.
South Carolina has a deep class of 31 commits that includes 14 four-star and 12 three-star recruits. The Gamecocks were without a five-star prospect until last Thursday when wide receiver Chris Culliver (from Garner, N.C.) agreed to don the garnet and black.
The group features five players in the Rivals100 with Culliver (19th), defensive end Cliff Matthews (32nd), quarterback Stephen Garcia (90th), defensive end Travian Robertson (96th) and offensive lineman Quintin Richardson (99th). The class also includes defensive tackle Olufemi Ajiboye, who is seventh in the prep school Top 50.
On paper, South Carolina is in a markedly elevated position than it was a year ago at this time. Of its 66 scholarship players in 2006, 16 had received their only BCS team offer from S.C. and 13 of those were recruited by former coach Lou Holtz. The Gamecocks have been been helped by a rejuvenated approach led by 28-year-old David Reaves, who took over as recruiting coordinator last February. Reaves' jolt that's even infused the visored-one himself, who has visited high schools during the main evaluation process for the first time in his career.
"[Reaves has] come in and brought a renewed approach and brought South Carolina into the way schools like Notre Dame and Florida recruit," Shurburtt said. "He got on kids early. He offered kids early [and] kids were recruited by South Carolina throughout the entire process."
The Gamecocks have also been winning big recruiting battles. Culliver, the nation's third-ranked wide receiver prospect, picked the Gamecocks over national champion Florida. It was a coup for S.C., which four days earlier lost five-star in-state defensive end Carlos Dunlap to the Gators. The lure for Culliver was Spurrier.
"There's no better offense for a playmaker to get the ball than Steve Spurrier's," Culliver told Rivals.com.
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