Shane Beamer and his staff are sprinting to the finish.
With eight days remaining until the early signing period opens up on Dec. 15, the Gamecocks coaching staff has been here, there and everywhere of late.
Beamer told reporters on Sunday he was in Miami earlier in the day meeting with a recruit before flying back to Columbia. Receivers coach Justin Stepp was a fixture along the sidelines at the South Carolina high school state championship games over the weekend.
The efforts are part of closing out what could be a foundational class for Beamer and his staff at South Carolina.
“I’m isolated in this in this building during the season,” Beamer said during his bowl press conference on Sunday. “I don’t talk to a whole lot of people other than my wife and kids and high school recruits and whatnot. So being able to get out and hear so many people that just stopped and congratulated us on the season that we had and the way that we play — really cool just hearing from other college coaches that I’ve bumped into or high school coaches that talked about the effort we play with in the fight that our guys play with and the passion that our guys play with.”
The Gamecocks head toward the early signing period with the bulk of their class already committed. South Carolina currently has 18 pledges and one yet-to-be announced commit (based on Shane Beamer’s “Welcome Home” tweets) as part of a 2022 class ranked No. 22 nationally and No. 9 in the Southeastern Conference, per 247Sports.
To Beamer and his staff’s credit, their first full class is also as diverse geographically as it is from a skillset perspective. South Carolina has commits from six different states — including both Texas and Delaware. USC has also made a clear push into the Northeast with pledges from four-star Pennsylvania products defensive back Keenan Nelson Jr. and offensive lineman Ryan Brubaker.
What remains to be seen is how South Carolina’s 2022 class changes over the next week-plus.
The Gamecocks have six slots remaining in their annually allotted 25. However, that stands to grow given the NCAA’s new rule that will allow schools to replace up to seven players who leave the program. It’s too early to say how many spots South Carolina will be able to replace, but the expectation is the Gamecocks will be around that seven number.
“We’re kind of flexible right now, because a lot of that depends on the players on our team and there’s some guys on our team that certainly have decisions to make in regards to their future — whether it be the NFL, staying, whatever it might be,” Beamer explained Sunday of how many players might still be added. “So when those guys make those decisions, as we get down the road here a little bit, that’ll I think clearly define the number that we’ll be working off of from that standpoint.”
In the meantime, South Carolina still has a handful of high school targets it’s pining after as things come to a close on the 2022 cycle.
Four-star Dutch Fork High receiver Antonio Williams remains priority No. 1 for the Gamecocks. Williams has been a longtime target for Beamer and his offensive staff. South Carolina still has stiff competition from Clemson and this will be a fight to the finish.
The next domino to fall could be three-star defensive tackle D’Andre Martin out of Durham, North Carolina. Martin had committed to Virginia Tech over South Carolina a few months ago, but he backed off that pledge on Sunday. Martin was in Columbia for the win over Auburn three weeks ago and remains a Gamecocks lean.
“I’m just kind of seeing all the options that are available to me and what will be the best fit for me, and how I can best maximize my skill set and get to the next level,” Martin said last week.
Monday morning, Beamer tweeted out a picture of South Carolina’s charter plane. Once again, the first-year head coach was hitting the road chasing another prospect.
With just over a week till players can sign, there’s plenty of shifting still to be done in USC’s 2022 class. Now the waiting game begins.
Phil Kornblut contributed reporting for this story.
South Carolina Class of 2022 Commits
Braden Davis, QB Ryan Brubaker, OT Grayson Mains, OT Cason Henry, OT Landon Samson, WR Kylic Horton, WR.ATH
Felix Hixon, DL Jamaal Whyce, DL Bryan Thomas Jr., DL Demetrius Watson, DL Donovan Westmoreland, LB Nick Emmanwori, LB/S Keenan Nelson Jr., CB Anthony Rose, S Peyton Williams, S Kajuan Banks, S Jy’Vonte McClendon, S Emory Floyd, S