In less than two weeks, college football fans will officially welcome the future of their programs as recruits across the nation sign letters of intent.
In our corner of the world, there wonít be any last-minute drama about South Carolina or Clemson landing the nationís top-rated recruit as there was last year when USC got defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. There wonít be much drama, period, since both schoolsí recruiting classes were almost complete well before National Signing Day, as this quasi-holiday is known.
For the most part, the Feb. 1 signing day will be a formality as players who had given non-binding (but almost always honored) verbal
commitments formally become Gamecocks and Tigers. To get ready for the big day, here is a look at USCís and Clemsonís recruiting classes:
FOUNDATION: USCís previous five recruiting classes, starting with 2011, ranked Nos. 18, 24, 12, 22 and 6 nationally, according to Rivals.com.
CURRENT HAUL: USCís 2012 recruiting class is No. 11 by Rivals, and its 24 members include eight who received a four-star rating (out of five) from the website.
BORDER SECURITY: USC has commitments from the Nos. 1, 6 and 21 in-state recruits. The No. 1 recruit, receiver Shaq Roland, is the fourth consecutive South Carolina Mr. Football to pick USC, joining Clowney, RB Marcus Lattimore and CB Stephon Gilmore.
BLUE-CHIPPERS: The Gamecocks landed three players in the Rivals top 250 overall recruits: Mike Davis (No. 63, No. 7 RB); Roland (No. 66, No. 10 WR); and Jody Fuller (No. 230, No. 37 WR).
NEEDS: Cornerback Stephon Gilmore left early for the NFL, and both starting safeties, D.J. Swearinger and DeVonte Holloman, will be seniors in 2012. The secondary reloaded with commitments from two CB recruits and three safeties, including four-star prospects Jordan Diggs (No. 11 safety) and Chaz Elder (No. 15 safety).
USC got five offensive linemen. The highest-rated are Brock
Stadnik (No. 36 OT) and Joe Harris (No. 13 OG).
NOTABLE: Davis is the younger brother of former Clemson RB James Davis. New defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward did well in Georgia this year. Davis is the stateís No. 8 prospect. Harris is No. 16, Elder No. 22. Ward landed all three. And donít overlook kicker Nick St. Germainís potential value.
FOUNDATION: The Tigersí previous five recruiting classes, starting with 2011, were Nos. 8, 19, 37, 12 and 16 nationally, according to Rivals.
CURRENT HAUL: Clemsonís 2012 recruiting class is No. 10 by
Rivals, and its 20 members include 10 who received a four-star
rating from the website.
BORDER SECURITY: Clemson has commitments from the Nos. 2, 3, 5, 8, 10, 12, 14, 17, 20, 23 and 26 in-state recruits. The Tigersí top-rated in-state recruits are Martin Aiken (No. 25 strong-side DE) and Ronald Geohaghan (No. 10 safety).
BLUE-CHIPPERS: The Tigers landed five in the Rivals top 250
recruits: Travis Blanks (No. 60, No. 4 safety); Germone Hopper (No. 75, No. 11 WR); Carlos Watkins (No. 104, No. 8 DT); Chad Kelly (No. 150, No. 4 dual-threat QB); and Zac Brooks (No. 202, No. 15 athlete).
NEEDS: The departure of DTs Brandon Thompson and Rennie Moore made rebuilding that position important. So it was critical that the Tigers landed Watkins and got four-star tackle Kevin Dodd to enroll for spring practices.
Offensive line was also an area of need, and Clemson will sign five, including Javarius Leamon, the No. 35 tackle, and Isaiah Battle, the No. 36 tackle, who went to prep school after signing in 2011.
NOTABLE: Kelly, who is from Buffalo, N.Y., is the nephew of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. Chad Kelly didnít have a scholarship offer from his uncleís alma mater, Miami. Blanks, the highest-rated player landed so far by Clemson or USC for 2012, was recruited by Jeff Scott.