For decades, South Carolina recruited defensive linemen hoping to find unpolished gems among the leftovers.


The Gamecocks simply reload.

Forever, top college programs from other states swept up much of the Palmetto State's best high school football talent. These days, Clemson gets its in-state share while snagging top prospects out of Georgia and Florida.

Even as South Carolina does the same.

Sustained winning is such a wonderful calling card on the recruiting trail for a pair of programs that finished together in the final Associated Press top 10 for the first time.

"It's had a huge impact," Gamecocks recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier Jr. said Wednesday at a signing day news conference. "Winning helps recruiting; recruiting helps winning."

The Gamecocks aren't selling your father's potential anymore. A 2010 trip to the SEC Championship Game was followed up by three straight 11-2 seasons capped by three bowl victories.

"Players know if they come to South Carolina, they can play at the highest level," Spurrier Jr. said. "And they want to know that, and that's important in recruiting. Every house we go into, we turn that sheet over that has all our accomplishments and what we've done, and it's impressive."

Such an accomplishment sheet is unlike any recruiting tool the Gamecocks have ever had.

Look how it worked Wednesday.

Yes, South Carolina opted to sign a few junior college defensive tackles. But much more importantly, they got late commitments from Dexter Wideman (Saluda) and Blake McClain (Jacksonville, Fla.), two freshman defensive tackles originally committed to national champion Florida State.

This rarely happened when South Carolina was losing minor bowl games.

Two staffs intact

Dabo Swinney was smiling Wednesday on ESPNU, too. Clemson, despite not winning for five Novembers in a row against South Carolina, continues to win most of its other games. The Tigers, according to various rankings, won big again on Signing Day, too.

Clemson recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott on Wednesday called Swinney "one of the best recruiting head coaches in the country."

Winning back-to-back bowl games against foes ranked in the top 10 helps.

Clemson also benefits from stability - no coaching staff turnover since the start of spring practice last year. That, of course, includes offensive coordinator Chad Morris, a successful head coach waiting to happen.

If the odds are long against two teams from South Carolina finishing in the top 10, how about both of them keeping their staffs intact? The Gamecocks for the first time in Steve Spurrier's tenure in Columbia haven't had a single coaching change.

Somehow, defensive coordinator Whammy Ward, another fine head coach candidate, is still around.

2015 impact

"Our staff's pretty much built that if one or two leave, we'll be OK," Spurrier said. "But it is good to have the same guys in the same areas. We know how we go about our business so we don't have to break anybody in."

The Gamecocks during this buildup to sustained success have lost Shane Beamer, Jay Graham and Ellis Johnson, key assistant coaches that doubled as outstanding recruiters.

They kept recruiting, kept adding to that accomplishment sheet.

Better yet, most of the players in the South Carolina and Clemson signing classes of 2014 made their decisions long ago. Way before the Gamecocks notched a third straight 11-2 season or the Tigers followed a Chick-fil-A Bowl upset of LSU with an Orange Bowl upset of Ohio State.

Only 364 days until National Signing Day 2015.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff