South Carolina football: Gamecocks’ early signing period accolades

South Carolina football will wrap up the early signing period today.

South Carolina, like all other Division I programs, will wrap up its early signing period on Friday as they hope to continue to improve a roster that was only able to scrape out two wins in 2020. On Wednesday, the Gamecocks received letters of intent from eight of their nine commitments, with only defensive lineman TJ Sanders remaining unsigned.

The class is small, which was expected following the firing of head coach Will Muschamp. After Muschamp’s departure, the Gamecocks saw nearly half of its 17-man class decommit, which may lead to a need to get creative on the recruiting trail this offseason.

As it stands, South Carolina has the lowest rated recruiting class in the SEC, but there are still players for the program to build around. Let’s take a look at the class to see the top rated recruit, immediate contributors, and the overall grade for this early signing period.

 

The Signees

  • QB Colten Gauthier
  • DB Marcellas Dial
  • OL Jordan Davis
  • WR Sam Reynolds
  • WR O’Mega Blake
  • RB Juju McDowell
  • DL Nick Barrett
  • OL JonDarius Morgan

 

Best Get

Quarterback Colten Gauthier is the only player to be considered a four-star prospect by a major recruiting service. Rivals.com has rated the signal caller as the nation’s 13th best pro-style passer, as well as the 26th best player in the state of Georgia.

He may be on track for a redshirt season, as the Gamecocks’ quarterback room is pretty full, but a few years behind Luke Doty and Ryan Hilinski could do some good. Gauthier has the size and arm strength to be a major contributor down the road.

 

Instant impact

OFF

South Carolina is in desperate need of playmakers at the wide receiver position. They signed two pass catchers in the early period, with one in-state wideout having a chance to make an immediate contribution.

O’Mega Blake was ranked as the sixth best player in the Palmetto State, and chose to play for the hometown school over offers from Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Penn State, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, and more.

With the lack of depth and production at wideout, the Gamecocks need someone to step in right away. Blake could be the answer after scoring 12 touchdowns this past year.

DEF

On defense, the Gamecocks got a big get in defensive tackle Nick Barrett. The North Carolina product is considered a three-star prospect, but he didn’t have the benefit of playing a senior season to improve that status. The Tar Heel state postponed high school football to the spring due to COVID, and with Barrett planning to enroll early, his career is done.

The 6-foot-3, 320-pound space eater could find his way into a defensive line that’s likely losing some star power from the 2020 roster. As a junior, he tallied 70 tackles and 15 sacks.

 

Surprises

Though the Gamecocks weren’t able to flip any recruits from opposing programs, they did receive some good news when running back Juju McDowell sent in his paperwork Wednesday afternoon. It wasn’t clear whether or not the tailback intended to sign early or wait until February, as the Gamecocks don’t currently have an offensive coordinator.

Shane Beamer was able to convince McDowell to sign his LOI, though, and it could be an addition that yields instant results.

The all-purpose back totaled 940 yards and 16 scores in his senior season, while also fielding punts and kickoffs. Originally committed to NC State, McDowell flipped his pledge to the Gamecocks over the summer. He could see the field early due to his versatility and kick return abilities.

 

Overall Grade

There are some great additions in the class, but anytime you have the league’s worst rated group, the grade won’t be where you want it to be as a program. Due to size and lack of star power, the Gamecocks get a below average grade for this Early Signing Period.

Grade: C-