But clearly, our head coach had a different plan in mind, one that would turn our past methodology on its ear. From the beginning of his first full year at recruiting, he and his his staff have departed from the old ways - South Carolina is no longer a major battleground state. Yes, SOS is fully ready to skim the cream from the state's milk jug, but he is not focusing his efforts here.
Rather, Spurrier has shifted his efforts to the richest of East Coast football recruiting hotbeds - Florida. In hindsight, this shouldn't be a surprise. He's a legend in the state. He has established recruiting contacts there. The Sunshine State is a rich region loaded with talent.
Let's illustrate the differences in geographical recruiting philosophies between the new regime and the more traditional approach taken by Lou Holtz. Lou focused his efforts in-state first and poached from neighboring states as he could. In his last recruiting year, 2004, Lou signed 28 players; 14 of those - an even 50% - were from South Carolina.
Of the neighboring states, Tennessee gave us the next highest percentage, at a not-so-robust 11%. We signed a single recruit from Florida, Stoney Woodson.
Now skip ahead to this recruiting season, as we said SOS's first full year. We obviously can't compare commits yet, but we can compare offers, by percentage, which gives us a good idea of what the commitment percentage will probably look like in February. Of the sixty offers I graphed for this story, 30 go out to recruits in the state of Florida - exactly half. Georgia is next, with 11 offers, or 18%. South Carolina, just two years removed from supplying half our players, now has only 8% of our offers in 2006.
Clearly, many pundits assumed SOS would ride the same recruiting trails previous coaches have ridden, and, perhaps, that is why so many of these geniuses decided that he wouldn't be able to compete. Just as clearly, they underestimated Steve Spurrier. And, when his first classes, chock full of Sunshine State blue chippers, start to mature, we'll all be on hand to serve Corso and all the rest a heaping serving of crow.
We'll adjust this list of uncommitted prospects periodically as the recruiting season continues:
1. OL Clifton Geathers: Time keep one of the Geathers clan in-state. Why not start with a massive, bruising, 5-star stud you can build your OL around for the next 4 years? He's been very tight-lipped about his recruiting thus far; hard to get a read on where he stands at this point.
2. DE Adam Patterson: He was ours to lose early on, but has opened up his recruiting. We still have an excellent shot, and hopefully his teammate and Gamecock LB commit Rodney Paulk can help show him the way to SOS' house.
3. OL Lou Eliades: We need big, nasty, talented OL who fire off the ball and arrive with an attitude, and Lou fits that bill to a T. He has taken his official visit here, and rated it as perfect. We'll just have to wait and see how his other visits go. Think of this New Jersey product as Tony Soprano in the trenches -- not a bad guy to have on your side.
4. OL Daron Rose: See above, regarding big, nasty and talented. Daron is one of the most coveted linemen in Florida, and it will not be easy to pry him out of the Sunshine State, but he's narrowing his list down, and we've made every cut thus far. Just got to get him here for a visit.
5. The Clearwater Boys: OL's Kevin Young and Seaver Brown, both from Clearwater, FL. High school teammates and future Gamecocks, we hope. Hostile, mobile, and agile.