South Carolina Football: An updated look at the Gamecocks’ recruiting class

South Carolina football commitment Mazeo Bennett was named the Wide Receiver MVP at the Rock Hill Inder Armour camp over the weekend. Credit: Syndication: The Anderson Independent Mail.
South Carolina football commitment Mazeo Bennett was named the Wide Receiver MVP at the Rock Hill Inder Armour camp over the weekend. Credit: Syndication: The Anderson Independent Mail. /

South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer and his staff seem to have improved the overall recruiting culture for the Gamecocks since taking over in Columbia. After a disastrous end to the Will Muschamp era in garnet and black, the Beamer era is welcoming in elite talent.

Cobbling together a last-minute class for the 2021 season, Beamer and company signed major contributors like Marcellas Dial, O’Mega Blake, and TJ Sanders.

Then, heading into 2022, Carolina received commitments from Nick Emmanwori, Stone Blanton, DQ Smith, and brought in one of the top transfer groups in the country, highlighted by quarterback Spencer Rattler and wide receiver Juice Wells.

The 2023 class was the Gamecocks’ best high school recruiting effort since 2017 (both finished 16th nationally). 5-star Nyck Harbor was flanked by 13 more players who were rated as 4-star recruits by at least one major recruiting outlet. Several of these blue chip freshmen are contributing already this fall, led by defensive back Jalon Kilgore and left tackle Tree Babalade.

The 2024 class has a chance to be even better. The Gamecocks only have 15 commitments in the cycle so far, so they are not ranked as highly as last season, but the quality of those commitments is high. 14 of the 15 players in the class are a 4-star or better according to at least one outlet.

The Gamecocks have two 5-star prospects committed for just the second time ever in the modern recruiting era (2020 had both MarShawn Lloyd and Jordan Burch committed; both players transferred this offseason). Washington DC EDGE player Dylan Stewart and South Carolina native offensive tackle Josiah Thompson highlight a class that is loaded with talent.

Kam Pringle and Blake Franks join Thompson as big-time offensive line talents, and 4-star quarterback Dante Reno, 4-star running back Matthew Fuller, 4-star tight end Michael Smith, and 4-star wide receiver Mazeo Bennett round out the offense.

Stewart is joined on the defensive side of the ball by twin 4-star linebacker/EDGE prospects Wendell Gregory and Fred “JayR” Johnson, 4-star defensive backs Kelvin Hunter and Braydon Lee, and 3-star safety/linebacker David Bucey.

4-star athlete Zy’marion Lang could end up as a wide receiver or a defensive back at Carolina, and punter/kicker Mason Love is a 3-star recruit who is rated as a 5-star by kicking recruiting site Kohl’s Kicking. Chase Kibbel is a preferred walk-on in the class who will come in as potential depth on both lines of scrimmage.

More help is likely to come, as well. South Carolina football has recently given an offer to in-star 4-star receiver Braylon Staley, and there is some optimism among Gamecock fans that Carolina might be able to flip him from his commitment to the Tennessee Volunteers. 5-star offensive lineman Jordan Seaton is considering the Gamecocks, and so is 4-star athlete Kam Mikell.

4-star running back Daniel Hill also is still in play for South Carolina, and Southern Cal EDGE commit Kameryn Fountain is believed to be wavering in his pledge and considering the “real USC.” Auburn defensive back commitment (and former Gamecock target) Jalewis Solomon has expressed a desire to take more visits before shutting down his recruitment.

Other talented high school recruits like Ernest Willor, Jr. (4-star EDGE), Booker Pickett, Jr. (4-star EDGE), D’Nas White (3-star DT), Kaleb Harris (3-star S), and KingJoseph Edwards (4-star ATH) are all undecided and interested in the South Carolina football program.

According to On3, the Gamecocks have the 19th-best class in the country and 13th-best in average player rating. ESPN has South Carolina football ranked 15th. Rivals ranks Shane Beamer’s program 33rd but 12th in average player ranking. 247Sports ranks the University of South Carolina as having the 19th-best overall class and 13th-best in average player rating.

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