CONWAY — Coastal Carolina wasted no time in flexing its newly-acquired muscle that comes at the Football Bowl Subdivision level.
Usually a team that brings in Palmetto State prospects, none of the Chanticleers’ 18 recruits from last month’s National Signing Day hail from South Carolina.
That’s a stark contrast from a year ago, when Coastal signed nine in-state recruits to play football. Sixteen other recruits came from elsewhere to help the team in its first year of competition at the FBS level as a member of the Sun Belt Conference.
Coastal Carolina, 3-9 last season, would not have been eligible for a bowl game regardless of its record because of conference rules. But the Chants can qualify for a bowl game next season, and are reaching out even farther beyond Palmetto State borders to bring in top-notch recruits.
Staff members said they’ll likely add a few in-state names to the roster by the time the 2018 season kicks off.
But for now, Coastal is embracing its ability to attract talent from a larger pool of players, said head coach Joe Moglia.
‘They wanted to come here’
After taking a medical sabbatical that lasted the entire 2017 season, Moglia is back as head coach. Interim head coach Jamey Chadwell returns to his duties as offensive coordinator.
Moglia said the team’s status as an FBS school solves a longstanding problem with recruits.
For years, Coastal was a top team in the Big South, capturing seven conference champions in its 13-year tenure.
That success garnered attention from top high school prospects in the country, said Moglia. However, those guys are always looking to compete in a Division I program.
“Oftentimes they wanted to come here. But the fact that we were in the FCS altered their decisions,” Moglia said.
That appears to be changing for the Conway school, after looking over this year's recruiting class. One example is Florida native Bryce Carpenter.
Carpenter, a quarterback, was ranked 88th nationally by 247sports.com. His high school career included 7,047 passing yards and 83 touchdowns, while rushing for 3,416 yards and 54 TDs.
The Chants are equally excited about recruits on the defensive side of the ball.
"We're pretty excited about the group we have," Cory Bailey, Coastal's recruiting coordinator, said on Signing Day. "We think the guys we signed today are really qualified...and we truly think they're going to help us."
Good enough for the NFL
Moglia’s long-term goals for the football program are high, but realistic.
It’ll take time to gain credibility as a viable option for top recruits. And as far as the Palmetto State is concerned, if a player has a chance to be a Clemson Tiger or South Carolina Gamecock, he’ll probably opt for one of those programs.
From that standpoint, Coastal has its work cut out, said Moglia. Similar to their Big South dominance, he says they’ll have to prove that a career at Coastal comes with a legitimate chance to play in a bowl game.
But Moglia is sure of one thing: Coastal’s ability to get NFL-caliber talent. He hangs his hat on players like De’Angelo Henderson and Josh Norman — Coastal Carolina legends who are now playing on Sundays.
“If you’re good enough to get into the NFL, we’ll get you there,” he said. “Our program has always paved a way for the best talent to show what they can do. And that will continue no matter what.”