Success on signing day pays dividends on the field

Antonio Allen (left), Sammy Watkins (right)

C. Aluka Berry/caberry@thestate.

Ask any college coach and he’ll tell you that recruiting is the lifeblood of a successful program.

It truly has become the second season in college football, and is watched almost as closely by fans.

Heading into National Signing Day on Wednesday, Clemson and South Carolina have solidified top-15 classes according to and, two of the leading national recruiting services.

But will recruiting the nation’s top players translate into success on the field? The data would seem to say it does.

The Gamecocks and Tigers each had double-digit wins in 2011 and the genesis of those historic seasons can be traced back to their success on signing day.

Alabama, which has won two of the last three national titles, has had the top-ranked recruiting class three times since 2008 and is on pace to have the No. 1 class again this year.

Here’s a look at the starters from this past season for South Carolina and Clemson, along with where they were ranked by coming out of high school:

The Tigers won their first ACC championship in two decades with a record-setting offense that featured seven four-star players, and one player who wasn’t rated. Offensive tackle Phillip Price was a walk-on and unrated in the 2007 recruiting class. When healthy, Price was arguably the Tigers’ most important offensive lineman this past season. WR Sammy Watkins is the only 5-star player in the starting lineup.

Stars of the Game

0-star: 1 (1 offense)

2-stars: 2 (2 defense)

3-stars: 8 (2 offense, 6 defense)

4-stars: 10 (7 offense, 3 defense)

5-stars: 1 (1 offense)

Home states

South Carolina: 10 (6 offense, 4 defense)

Georgia: 3 (3 defense)

Florida: 3 (1 offense, 2 defense)

North Carolina: (2 offense)

Tennessee: 1 (1 defense)

Virginia: 2 (1 offense, 1 defense)

Alabama: 1 (1 offense)

The nucleus of the Gamecocks’ historic 11-win season started in 2008, ironically one of their weakest classes in the last five years, according to the experts. The 2008 class produced eight starters, including seven on defense. Spur Antonio Allen and DE Devin Taylor were among the most productive players for the Gamecocks in 2011.

Stars of the Game

2-stars: 2 (2 offense)

3-stars: 9 (4 offense, 5 defense)

4-stars: 9 (4 offense, 5 defense)

5-stars: 2 (1 offense, 1 defense)

Home states

South Carolina: 11 (5 offense, 6 defense)

Georgia: 3 (3 offense)

Florida: 4 (2 offense, 2 defense)

North Carolina: 4 (1 offense, 3 defense)

(National ranking of class by and

South Carolina Clemson

Year Rivals/Scout Rivals/Scout

2012 13/9 8/11

2011 18/12 8/14

2010 24/34 19/23

2009 12/13 37/42

2008 22/34 12/11

2007 6/7 16/23