Will Muschamp’s philosophy for South Carolina recruiting is simple. First, mine the state. Next, look directly north and immediately south.
Since Muschamp took over in December of 2015, the Gamecocks have signed 16 players from the state of South Carolina, not counting quarterback Jake Bentley, who played his final seasons of high school ball in Alabama.
The state of Georgia is the next most-represented state with 12, followed by North Carolina (7) and Florida (5).
“We only have about 4.5 million people in the state of South Carolina and we have outstanding players and outstanding high school coaches in our state, but we’re not year-in-year-out going to sign enough players,” Muschamp said. “When I first got here, on average, between Clemson and South Carolina, we’re signing 15 players from the state, so you’re signing eight or nine, maybe 10 a year.”
Running backs coach Bobby Bentley has been assigned to parts of the state of Tennessee, to help increase South Carolina’s recruiting footprint.
“We’ve branched a little bit into Tennessee, because Nashville is now more of a melting pot. It’s not necessarily homegrown Tennessee kids, so that’s where our concentration is going to be,” Muschamp said.
Special circumstances will dictate whether or not the Gamecocks get involved with a recruit from the state of Texas, where Muschamp spent several years as the defensive coordinator/head coach in waiting for the Longhorns.
“If we have a connection and a lot of young men maybe have family in Greenville, Charlotte or Charleston, from further away, like the state of Texas, we do have the advantage,” Muschamp said. “Dallas and Houston both fly into Columbia and that’s something I’ve looked at, but at the end of the day, they’ve got to travel across of really good schools to get here.
“And why are they willing to do that if they wouldn’t want to go to the other schools? Because we’re going to be recruiting the same people. A lot of times, distance is a breaking factor for a family, based on what a young man may do.”
There are “specialty positions,” like quarterback that make it particularly unique, especially if there’s already a relationship between the prospect and position coach.
“That’s why we have branched out some more and recruited other places,” Muschamp said. “We’re going to concentrate on our state first, North Carolina, Florida and the state of Georgia. That’s where we’re going to sign the majority of our players.”