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NSD17: Gamecocks Sign 24
Feb. 1, 2017


WILL MUSCHAMP QUOTES

Opening Statement
“I’ll say the same thing every year: we’ll know about this class in two or three years. That’s how they progress in the recruiting process. You’ve got the evaluation. You’ve got the recruitment. You’ve got the development. You look at last year’s class. We brought in seven freshmen that started. Nine guys that we brought in started. That was last year. Fourteen played. There are going to be some guys who didn’t play for us last year that are going to play for us and contribute on this team moving forward. Not playing your first year doesn’t mean anything. There will be some guys in this signing class that certainly will contribute to our team this fall, and some not as much, but we need to understand that doesn’t mean you’re not a good player. Football is a developmental game.

“We have a lot of people to thank. Our recruiting office, Robbie Liles, Jessica Jackson, Brian Turk and Shaq Wilson work year-round in recruiting. That’s what they do, as far as an evaluation standpoint and gathering information for the coaches. All of those things – they do a fantastic job. Kristin Sheetz, our external communications director – that will continue to improve, that department. We’re taking steps forward there and appreciate Coach Tanner’s support on that. A lot of interns spend a lot of time and effort helping us on official visit and unofficial visit weekends. We really appreciate all of their efforts.

“On the visits, it takes a village to get this thing done as far as to show a recruit and his family what South Carolina is all about. Maria Hickman and her staff do a phenomenal job at the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center. They do a fantastic job. We’ve got multiple professors who come and spend their time, volunteer their time to talk about the different academic disciplines that each student-athlete can look at when they come to the University of South Carolina. We really appreciate that.

“Our medical staff – Jeff Guy, Clint Haggard and their staffs do a great job, and our coaches did a fantastic job as well. I appreciate their wives being single parents for the month of January there. They certainly have spent a lot of time away from home.

“Coach Tanner did a great job. Every weekend, we had a presentation on our Operations Facility in our new indoor facility. We had a virtual reality tour that our architects allowed us to have. It was really good for our recruits to see that, where we are headed. Charles Waddell was at every weekend. We appreciate the support of our administration.

“We had 24 signees. I think you are always looking to get your football team better. We needed to get faster as an entire organization. W got a lot faster. You look at some of the guys we signed on both sides of the ball. We got longer and more athletic on the offensive line. We signed three receivers that I’m really excited about. I feel like on all three levels, we helped ourselves defensively.”

On the defensive signees who could make immediate contributions for the team…
“It’s always hard to tell. I’ll know a lot more when we get through the summer and August on who you want to count on. Obviously, when you sign a junior college player, you expect that player to come in and contribute. We needed to get more girth up front, and certain Javon Kinlaw was a huge signee for us to be able to add that. M.J. Webb is a young man that’s on campus, and we’ve been really pleased with his work ethic so far. Aaron Sterling is a guy from Tucker High School who is a guy we felt like, initial quickness-wise, has a lot of attributes and is a very mature young man. We feel like he can come in and certainly give us some help. At linebacker, we’re very thin. Bryson Allen-Williams, Skai Moore and T.J. Brunson are the only three guys coming back who’ve played in a college game. So some of these new guys are going to have to come in and help us immediately. We’ve got to improve in the secondary, and I feel like we’ve signed some guys that can certainly contribute for us immediately in the secondary.”

On the potential of his new linebackers…
“I think that’s one of the hard things right now on defense is finding linebackers because of the way the game has gone to the spread game. Most high school coaches are putting their faster guys at defensive end to rush the passer. So you get more speed on the field, and you’re playing more defensive back-type guys at linebacker. In our league right now, the East is moving to more of a spread league, but we’re still going to face some two-back teams. For instance, one of our crossover games is Arkansas this year. We’re going to get some traditional two-back running games, and we’ve got to be able to play in more of a regular personnel setting at linebacker. So I think Davonne (Bowen) and Damani (Staley) are two guys that could rush the passer extremely well in high school, and I think both of them have the ability to stand up and play. I think Brad Johnson is another guy who we feel can stand up and do some things as well. A lot of that is going to come down to the summer. As we get into fall camp we’ve got to make some quick decisions on where these guys can fit best, get them in a spot and let them play.”

On the drama surrounding some of the student-athletes who commit on National Signing Day…
“To be honest, going in to it you kind of know. I know that everybody likes to show the war room, everybody jumping up and hugging each other, but for the most part you usually know. Very seldom have we gone into a signing day not knowing what a young man was going to do. Now you never know until you get that picture of the NLI and the financial aid agreement and the conference agreement, but those are things to me that you kind of have an idea going in. This was a pretty uneventful signing day, which for us, we needed that. We felt very comfortable going in to signing day.”

On the momentum that signing highly-rated players can bring to future signing classes…
“I think you’ve got to realize where you are. You were 3-9, now you’re 6-7. You were 2-4 at one point in the season. One of the major factors you always look at in recruiting is winning, and having the opportunity to go win a championship. That’s what we plan on doing here. I think a lot of guys, when they came on their visit, they realized the positive momentum in the program and where it’s headed. They wanted to be a part of that. Certainly, when you’re able to attract so-called high-profile guys, I would say that certainly helps you in the future.”

On the difference like in the recruiting process this time around with a full year under his belt at South Carolina…
“As much as anything, you’re able to form relationships. It’s all about relationships in recruiting and people understanding you and what you’re about going forward. They’ve seen a product on the field. Now they have an idea of what we want to be in all three phases, and they have an idea of what we’re going to do academically here. They have an idea of what we expect socially here as far as our program is concerned. I think for people it’s a little bit more tangible for them to see those things. I think it’s exciting. The relationships part of it, I think there are a lot less uncertainties with the 24 guys we signed today. We know a lot about these guys. Quite frankly in a transition year there’s some uncertainties about background. There are uncertainties about commitment level to football and those sorts of things. Those are all things we feel much more comfortable about. I think of the 24 guys we signed, 22 of them were in our camps this summer, and that’s huge to be able to coach them exactly the way we’re going to coach them when they get here in the fall – so they understand what’s going to be expected of them, they understand how they’re going to be coached on the field as well.”

On the importance of keeping 11 South Carolina natives in the class…
“Well, I think that this state has really good players and really good coaching. These are all guys – every one of these guys we had in camp. We were able to work all of these guys out. You take the three guys we signed in North Carolina because I consider that in-state because of the proximity to Charlotte, especially to Jaylin Dickerson, who’s on campus right now. In the two morning workouts that I’ve been a part of, athletically, (he) can help us immediately. Eric Douglas is a guy we had in camp from Mallard Creek and then Sherrod Greene from Rocky Mount. All three of those guys were in our camps this summer. The 11 guys we signed in-state, we worked them out, we felt very comfortable about where they are. There are a couple that project position wise you would say with a couple guys, but again, Davonne Bowen is a 10.6 100-meter (runner) at 230 pounds. Damani Staley has led the state the last two years in sacks. Brad Johnson has set himself apart as a two-way player at Pendleton High School. All three of those guys we’re extremely excited about to be able to do some different things. You look at OrTre Smith who’s on campus here from Wando High School. We’re really excited about Shi Smith (who) we had in camp as a slot receiver and returner. (He) can give you a lot of different things as far as contributions are concerned. Summie Carlay is an offensive lineman from Laurens that again, on campus, great work ethic and a guy that we’re excited about. All the way down the line. These are all guys we’re very familiar with. We had them in camp. We worked them out. We’ve built a great relationships with them, and we’re excited about them being here. They’re not anybody that we’re falling back on. These are guys we offered early in the process that we knew were important for us moving forward with our program.”

On the possibility of new signees playing special teams in the fall…
“There’s no question. I think the guys see that as well as another reason to come here was the opportunity to contribute immediately. We’ve got to improve our speed as a football team. That put it a premium at all positions.”

On what it’s like to recruit some of the same student-athletes as Georgia, which is coached by his friend Kirby Smart…
“No, at the end of the day we’re no different than probably what he does. What we do is we sell the University of South Carolina and what we have to offer from an academic, athletic, social and spiritual standpoint and how we can help develop a young man. That’s really about it. The really good recruiters, which Kirby does a nice job, that I’ve been against sell their program. That’s what they do. We’re very proud of what we are, but more than anything, where we’re headed.”

On the ability of older players like Hayden Hurst to be a positive influence on the new signing class…
“Our guys did a fantastic job in the recruiting process. Part of being a part of a really good program is understanding they’ve really got to help us on recruiting weekends whether it’s an unofficial situation or an official situation in hosting these guys and building those relationships. Great players like to play with other great players. When they’re able to meet those guys on the visits and they’re able to form a relationship and be able to ask them the hard questions sometimes about coaches, the academic support, the athletic training support. All of those things are questions a lot of times that are directed to the student-athletes that are presently at your campus. Our guys did a fantastic job in the recruiting process.”

On how Damani Staley will be able to make the transition to linebacker…
“He’s athletic enough to play in space, and he has the quickness and the footwork to be able to play in space very easily. It’s just a matter of what he’s going to be able to handle when he comes in. We’ll put him in situations to be successful, and as a staff we have to make some quick decisions on some of those guys and put them in one spot where they can play.”

On the celebration that comes from a successful signing class…
“We just go to the next step. Tomorrow morning we work on our ’18 and ’19 class, and we start our cut-ups next week for our season.”

On Jamyest Williams becoming a cover corner…
“Jamyest is a guy who is talented in a lot of ways. In my opinion, his greatest talent is his work ethic and competitive edge. Those are two things that really jump out at you when you see him compete and go after it. Height to me is not an issue at all – the guy has close to a 40-inch vertical leap. He has great ball skills and judgment down the field to make plays. I coached a guy named Jerraud Powers at Auburn who was very similar. He’s still playing in the National Football League – I think he’s in his 10th or 11th year. He has a great competitive edge and work ethic, and we will he can contribute in a lot of ways for us.”

On OrTre Smith and is he believes Smith will be cleared for spring practice after suffering an ankle injury last season…
“I do. He came off the ankle surgery and is working with our medical staff. He’s really progressing extremely well. I would expect him to be cleared either right at spring practice in February or after we come back from spring break. One or the other.”

On dealing with the possibility of a recruit changing his mind…
“At the end of the day, there is no binding to a commitment. A young man is allowed to change his mind – I have no problem with that. If he changes his mind and wants to come to South Carolina, that’s a good thing. Sometimes the information changes, sometimes he’s influenced one way or the other. They can change their mind, and that’s fine. That’s why we have the deep board and continue to recruit all the time. That’s why you’re able to make adjustments and take the next available player. It’s part of it.”

On if he has had much interaction with Bob McNair over the years…
“I have not. Mr. McNair flew in during the season and wanted to see our plan and Coach Tanner’s plan moving forward with the operations facility. I really appreciate his generous donation that will help us out moving forward. He’s done a lot for the university, and I appreciate for what he’s done for athletics as well.”

On new defensive signee Brad Johnson…
“I think Brad (Johnson) is a guy who has a natural pass-rushing ability. From what we saw in camp, he can flip his hips and turn his hips to the quarterback. He has good length in his arms, and he’s a guy that plays extremely hard. One of the things we really liked when we had him in camp was his work ethic. He’s been very productive on film. He’s an outstanding young man, and everyone at his high school thinks the world of him – from his administrators to his coaches. All those things check all the boxes of what you want in a student-athlete at South Carolina.”

On Javon Kinlaw’s journey to South Carolina…
“Javon was a situation that when I first got here, the best situation for him was to go to junior college immediately. He was able to do that. He’s done a fantastic job at junior college. He’s had above a 3.0 GPA since he’s been there, and sometimes guys mature at different ages. He’s handled his situation wonderfully. I am extremely proud of how he’s approached the situation.”

On his colleague Dan Quinn reaching the Super Bowl with the Falcons…
“He’s an outstanding man first of all. He’s an outstanding football coach and has a real accountability in motivating guys. I’m not at all surprised with what they’re accomplishing there. He did a fantastic job as a coordinator at Seattle, and I’ll certainly be pulling for him hard Sunday.”

On how satisfied he is with the pass rushing ability of this class…
“They have to come out and perform. That’s part of signing day – they haven’t done anything at South Carolina. So they need to come in with the right attitude and get to work.”
 

 

 

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