COLUMBIA, S.C. — Some of the most celebrated passers in South Carolina history returned for Friday’s Elite Quarterbacks Camp.
Todd Ellis, Jeff Grantz, Corey Jenkins, Erik Kimrey, Phil Petty, Dondrial Pinkins and Steve Taneyhill were among the former Gamecocks signal-callers who accepted Will Muschamp’s invitation to visit with the new staff.
“They really did it for us guys to come and see them, to see what they’re doing,” Taneyhill said.
“That’s one thing, when (Lou) Holtz came, he didn’t do a good job of getting former players back. Coach (Steve) Spurrier did a really good job of getting us former players back, and I like what coach Muschamp is doing, getting those guys to come back around that did play here and this school means something.”
Taneyhill (1992-95) is first in school history with 62 touchdown passes. After his professional career ended, he won five state championships in 16 seasons coaching high school football in the state of South Carolina.
Shi Smith, one of his former players at Union County High School, is committed to sign with the Gamecocks in February.
“I think (Muschamp’s) done a heck of a job recruiting. That’s the first thing I’ve seen. Him and his staff work at this recruiting and I think you’ve got to do that,” Taneyhill said. “We’re not Alabama or Florida. We’ve got a lot of holes to fill and I like how hard they’re working on the recruiting trail.
“He did a good job of getting in with the state high school coaches early and they’ve worked hard. It’s going to be tough. They’ve got some holes to fill, but he is trying to get the talent here and I think that’s a step in the nice direction.”
The first order of business for Muschamp and the South Carolina staff is to figure out who’s going to play quarterback in 2016.
“There’s no crystal ball. You never really know,” Petty said. “They’ve got two guys here they really like. One’s Perry Orth, who’s played some ball. He’s got some experience under his belt. A young kid with (Brandon) McIlwain, who doesn’t have experience yet, but he’s got a lot of upside to him. And they’re recruiting good kids for the future. I think that position will be solidified.”
Petty (1997-2001) solidified the position for three seasons, winning 17 of his final 23 starts. A former assistant coach at East Carolina, Petty now lives in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., where he works in medical device sales.
His first job out of college was as the offensive coordinator at Hammond High School in Columbia. From there, he went back to South Carolina, where he served as a graduate assistant. These days, there are a lot more bells and whistles in and around Williams-Brice Stadium.
“From a facilities standpoint, we’ve really improved where we need to be. We’re making the right steps there,” Petty said.
Like Taneyhill, Petty sees marked improvement on the recruiting trail.
“Muschamp’s got a very good plan. These guys work hard. They work day and night at recruiting,” Petty said. “I think he’s going to be on some of the right guys, to fit the right pieces to the puzzle. I think we’re going to see some good things over the next couple of years.”
With the indoor facility already up and the new football operations building coming down the pipeline, there’s plenty of infrastructure to help make sure that happens.
“It’s giant, because these kids these days, it’s, ‘Show me what you’ve got,’” Taneyhill said. “When I came looking for a school, I was just worried about playing time. Where can I go and play the fastest? I think that’s changed a little bit. Kids look at all this stuff.
“When you win 11 games three years in a row and the SEC gets its own network, you can get a lot nicer stuff. What they’ve done around the stadium, it’s just unbelievable. It comes from winning and we need to get back to that winning, just to keep pace with the other schools in the SEC that are winning.”