Shawn Elliott could have easily closed up shop on the recruiting trail following Steve Spurrier’s resignation in October.
Scrambling to secure signatures and maintain relationships with current commits would appear to be too frivolous a task for a coach unsure of his future in Columbia, S.C., beyond this season.
But the interim head coach has pushed forward admirably, even in light of a few recent setbacks. The Gamecocks have lost commitments from high-profile recruits Marlon Character (Atlanta, Ga.), P.J. Blue (Montgomery, Ala.) and Bryan Edwards (Conway, S.C.) in the last month alone.
And though Elliott has countered with commitments from Darius Whitfield (Mobile, Ala.) and Griffin Gentry (Birmingham, Ala.), respectively, South Carolina’s 2016 recruiting class still ranks No. 49 in the country, per 247Sports.com’s rankings.
The last time the Gamecocks finished out of the top 20? 2010.
Recent shortfalls on the recruiting trail can be attributed to the uncertainty of the coaching staff moving forward and not so much the effort of Elliott and his inherited staff to find and acquire talent.
According to The State’s David Cloninger, it’s been business as usual.
“They haven’t gone radio silence with the kids,” Cloninger said. “They’ve still been out there talking with the kids, visiting and texting them every chance they get. Everything that if the staff were in place and they were having an 11-win season right now, they would still be doing. There’s been no switch of the recruiting philosophy. They don’t have guys going out there saying, ‘Well, you might just have to hold on.’ They’re not encouraging them to look around elsewhere.”
On Friday, it was reported that South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner had begun reaching out to recruits urging them to hold their pledges. Commits Lloyd Cushenberry (Geismar, La.) and quarterback Brandon McIlwain (Newton, Penn.) confirmed to The State’s Phil Kornblut last week they had received phone calls from Tanner.
Cushenberry said the university aims to make a decision on its next coach over the course of the next three weeks — a sign that the program is moving quickly to have a staff in place ahead of National Signing Day.
Whether that staff includes Elliott or not, one thing is for certain: the South Carolina native has no intention of quitting, as evident by the string of Tweets he sent out following Saturday’s loss to Citadel.
Quitting??? You've got to be kidding me….Get yourselves ready for one hell of a fight next week. I'll never quit on anything or anyone.
— Shawn Elliott USC (@ShawnElliottUSC) November 22, 2015