Toward the end of Steve Spurrier’s run at South Carolina, the Head Ball Coach spent more time counting birdies on his scorecard than stars on the recruiting trail.
Perhaps that’s why Will Muschamp inherited a roster that was short on talent when he took over as head coach in December of 2015.
The Gamecocks’ 2012 recruiting class serves as a painful reminder of just how poorly the roster was managed during Spurrier’s waning days as the HBC. SEC Country looks at how that class turned out, examining which prospects lived up to the billing, and which fell short of expectations.
Of the nine 4-star prospects who inked with the Gamecocks in 2012, only a few are counted as hits, or those who lived up to the recruiting hype.
Tight end Jarrell Adams and running back Mike Davis both moved on to the NFL after wrapping up successful careers at South Carolina. Adams is now with the New York Giants and Davis is a reserve for the San Francisco 49ers.
Defensive end Darius English, who led the Gamecocks in sacks as a senior in 2016, has a chance to be drafted into the league later this spring.
Beyond that trio, that’s where things start to get alarming.
For the sake of political correctness, we’ll pump the breaks on using the word “bust” in the heading, but “not quite” has the same translation.
None of the wide receivers signed in the class panned out: 4-star in-state prospects Shaq Roland (Lexington) and Kwinton Smith (Dillon) and Jody Fuller, a 3-star prospect out of North Carolina. All three transferred early into their careers.
To make matters worse, Quinshad Davis, a 4-star from Gaffney, left the state without an offer from the Gamecocks.
Davis enjoyed a productive career at North Carolina, where he finished second in school history in receiving yardage. He was first in a string of in-state prospects who were overlooked by Spurrier’s staff before going on to productive college careers.
Safety Chaz Elder stuck around South Carolina for the duration of his college career, though he never really entrenched himself as a starter and consistent contributor.
Another former 4-star, linebacker Kaiwan Lewis, had some early success at South Carolina, but playing time decreased toward the end of career in Columbia and he transferred to Rutgers for his final season of eligibility.
The quarterback signed by South Carolina in 2012, 3-star Brendan Nosovitch, transferred to Boston College after converting to tight end.
Kicker Nick St. Germain was signed as a scholarship player, but he transferred in 2013 when it became apparent that freshman Elliott Fry was the kicker of the present and future.
For some, there’s a stigma associated with being rated as a 3-star, when there really shouldn’t be. At its core, a 3-star ranking means a prospect is good enough to play at the Power 5 level.
Linebacker T.J. Holloman, offensive tackle Mason Zandi, center Cody Waldrop and safeties T.J. Gurley, Chris Moody, Jordan Diggs all enjoyed varying degrees of success as starters for South Carolina.
The same could be said for cornerback Rico McWilliams, who played in 33 games before leaving the program just before his senior season.
What’s more concerning are the prospects who fall in the “not available” category.
As is the case anywhere, players don’t pan out for factors beyond their control, injuries being a primary reason why.
Four-star offensive tackle Brock Stadnik saw his career cut short because of a shoulder injury. His brother, Clayton, a 3-star, had a respectable start to his career as an interior lineman, but he lost 40 pounds after tonsil surgery and was moved to tight end.
Academic casualties are also a factor, and there were several of those in South Carolina’s 2012 haul, including 4-star offensive guard Joe Harris and 3-star defensive end Jhaustin Thomas.
Tight end Kelvin Rainey was moved to defense before he left for a junior college year then signed with Georgia State. Running back Kendric Salley took a redshirt at South Carolina before transferring to Presbyterian. Safety Kyle Fleetwood transferred to Coastal Carolina.
All rankings and ratings are based on the 247Sports composite.