South Carolina football: Gamecocks picking up steam on the recruiting trail

The South Carolina football program is gaining some traction on the recruiting trail.

Will Muschamp is entering year five in Columbia, coming off of a disappointing 4-8 season in 2019. Despite the recent struggles, the Gamecock head coach has been able to sustain momentum on the recruiting trail, landing in the top group for a number of highly touted players, and securing commitments from his share of prospects.

Over the last two cycles, South Carolina has been able to land three five-star recruits. Even with the Gamecocks having posted the worst season of the Will Muschamp era last year, the program was able to sign top 40 players Jordan Burch and MarShawn Lloyd. This coming just a year after South Carolina gained a commitment from five-star defender Zacch Pickens.

What’s more impressive, Muschamp is doing this while rivals Clemson and Georgia are recruiting at an all-time level. Both have finished in the top ten in team recruiting each of the last three years, with Georgia taking home the nation’s recruiting crown in 2018 and 2020.

South Carolina football’s recruiting momentum has carried over into ’21 and ’22.

On paper, the Gamecocks’ current class is a step below Muschamp’s previous groups, but this also comes in a pandemic environment where the evaluation process of prospects has been much different. Recruits have not been able to receive the same exposure through the camp circuits as they have in years past.

Still, the South Carolina class already has 16 commits, with a few other targets remaining in the fold. Over the last few weeks, the Gamecocks have been trending for highly rated players like Michael Trigg and Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins.

Ingram-Dawkins is the Palmetto State’s top prospect, with 247Sports rating the lineman as the nation’s 86th best player and fifth best defensive tackle.  The Gaffney native has been a longtime Gamecock lean, with South Carolina picking up four of the five crystal ball predictions on the 247 site.

Earlier this week, Ingram-Dawkins released a top four, which unsurprisingly, included the Gamecocks. Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee rounded out his top four. The race for the defender’s services is long from over, but it’s a positive sign to see South Carolina in the mix for an elite player like Ingram-Dawkins.

Michael Trigg, a tight end from Tampa, has also been showing the Gamecocks some love of late. The four-star pass catcher has South Carolina in his final group along with defending national champion LSU and traditional college football powerhouse Southern Cal. It’s a testament to Muschamp and the Carolina coaching staff’s recruiting abilities that the Gamecocks have remained firmly in the mix.

Looking ahead to the class of 2022, South Carolina picked up a huge commitment last month from the nation’s top dual threat quarterback. Five-star signal caller Gunner Stockton chose to play for the Gamecocks over his hometown Georgia Bulldogs. If his pledge remains firm through signing day, Stockton will be the top rated quarterback commit in program history, surpassing Stephen Garcia. He’d join a quarterback room that also includes top 100 players Luke Doty and Ryan Hilinski.

No matter which side of the spectrum you stand on regarding coach Muschamp’s tenure at South Carolina, you have to acknowledge his prowess on the recruiting trail in Columbia. If the Gamecocks can show improvement on the field in 2020, the sky is the limit for this staff and the incoming talent they can attract to play for the Gamecocks.

Next: Gamecock football: 5 bold predictions for 2020
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