South Carolina wrapped up its 2013 recruiting class on Wednesday when they signed 18 players to a National Letter of Intent to join the Gamecocks. Three players in the 2013 class had already enrolled - D.J. Park, Connor Mitch and Ronnie Martin - and one other player - Kendal Vickers - didn't sign with South Carolina due to the possibility of not qualifying for the fall semester.
This year's class was featured a good bit of out-of-state talent headlined by six players from the state of Georgia. Four players were signed out of Florida and North Carolina while the Gamecocks did pick up four players instate. This year's class in the state of South Carolina was heavy on talent which is why South Carolina was able to focus more on the bordering states instead of within the boundaries of South Carolina.
When you look at this 2013 class, the Gamecocks added eight four-star players and 13 three-star players. It's a group that's heavy on defense featuring 12 defensive players. It was an area hit hard by graduation this year, especially at the linebacker position, and thus was a major need for South Carolina. The Gamecocks also added five strong offensive lineman in this class as well. USC has several young lineman on campus for this coming season but this group's presence will likely be felt in a few years due to attrition through graduation.
With all that said, let's get to some Second Thoughts on the 2013 recruiting class.
- Pharoh Cooper is one of my favorite recruits in this class. I think his abilities were undervalued this year and he showed off his versatility by starring at quarterback for Havelock. He's exceptional with the ball in his hands and can find a way to make a player miss in the open field. His speed is deceptive and he's already a great player in the return game. With Ace Sanders leaving, Cooper will have every opportunity to take over the punt returner role for the Gamecocks. Cooper should be able to make the transition to cornerback for South Carolina with relative ease. This young man has the makings to be a special talent.
- Not much needs to be said on Devin Washington. He may not have been the highest-rated recruit in this class, but he certainly was the most emphatic one in regards to his feelings towards South Carolina. This young man continuously pumped up South Carolina at every opportunity and took to social media to do some recruiting for the Gamecocks on the coaching staff's behalf. His name was mentioned as someone that worked with Skai Moore down the stretch to convince him that South Carolina was the place to be. A downfall for Washington's ranking was his size at the time. This shouldn't be a big deal with the Gamecocks though as Washington measured in at 6-3 and should be able to be a big contributor in a few years. If you're looking for a future leader on this football team, keep Devin Washington's name handy.
- David Williams gets the hype out of the two running back signees and it's well-deserved. He's a big time talent that has an opportunity to become a player for South Carolina soon. But let's not forget about Jamari Smith. Smith put up monster numbers against some of the best talent in the state of Florida this past year and could become a surprise player for South Carolina in the future. In this day and age, it's always good to have a few quality running backs on the roster. Alabama has made it work. Williams may be a household name soon, but Smith has a chance to turn a few heads in his own right.
- This offensive line class up and down is one of the best South Carolina has had in a long time. The instate haul of Bryce King and D.J. Park will have those two starting in the interior of the offensive line in a few shorts years. Add in big prospects like Alan Knott and J.P. Vonashek and then out-of-state recruit Na'Ty Rodgers and you could have a future starting five right there. Knott has that mean streak you look for in an offensive lineman and could be a potential force in a few years. I like where Shawn Elliott has this group heading in the future.
- Linebacker was a major position of need and South Carolina hit a homerun in this cycle. They once had Matt Rolin committed, but with his deflection and the addition of Skai Moore and Jonathan Walton, the Gamecocks may have come out ahead in the end. Walton blew up late in the process and picked up offers from several SEC schools like Auburn, South Carolina and Tennessee. South Carolina was the first SEC school to offer and the coaching staff did an excellent job of letting Walton know that he was needed and wanted. Pulling him away from Auburn is a major win for USC. Moore was an excellent addition who rose to four-star status late in the recruiting cycle. He's considered one of the top linebackers in the state of Florida and really helped add to the new group of linebackers that USC brought in with the 2013 class. Add in Larenz Bryant, Mohamed Camara, David Johnson and Gerald Turner and this group has some great potential down the line. There's a lot of versatility in this group with players who will likely play multiple linebacker positions for South Carolina. Great group and a great way to answer such a glaring need.
- Connor Mitch just appears to have the look of a star quarterback. He's already enrolled and participating in winter conditioning drills and Coach Spurrier said Wednesday that he's usually around the stadium working on his throwing skills. He likely will redshirt this coming season but don't be surprised if Mitch is a starter sooner than later. He set some records during his senior year in North Carolina and has the mentality needed to be a successful Steve Spurrier quarterback.
- Kelsey Griffin was a big-time pickup. Not only for the fact that he's a perfect fit for this South Carolina offense, but that he's also an exceptional young man. In talking with his high school coach, I got the impression that Griffin would be a player that fans would be proud of. He tried to become a Bulldog at one point in time but it seems like it'll be Georgia's loss with Griffin becomes a force for South Carolina in a few short years.
- Shawn Elliott and GA Mangus deserve some credit for the job they did on the recruiting trail. Between those two coaches, they signed 12 out of the 21 players for the Gamecocks. Both are young coaches who get just how they need to recruit at this level. With those two on board, expect South Carolina to continue to find, and land, talented players in the coming future.