Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney (right) and South Carolina’s Shane Beamer during the 2023 Southern Company Peach Bowl Challenge, Tuesday, May 2, 2023, in Greensboro, Georgia. (Paul Abell via Abell Images for the Southern Company Peach Bowl Challenge)
It has been 11 years since South Carolina Football finished ahead of Clemson, its closest rival, in the 247Sports Composite Team Recruitment Rankings.
Could the Gamecocks break that streak this cycle?
Coming together as star-studded Recruit Class of 2024 trainer Shane Beamer and his staff are sure to be off to a good start.
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There is still a long way to go before the early signing deadline in December. But South Carolina’s current signing class is 10th on the 247Sports Composite – which incorporates reviews from multiple websites and is considered the industry standard – while Clemson is 21st.
South Carolina is also well ahead of Clemson in the 247Sports average recruit ranking metric, which is based on the average player grade (out of 100) for each recruit in a class. These grades ultimately determine a player’s star ranking. The Gamecocks’ nine verbal commits have an average rating of 92.95, while the Tigers’ eight commits have an average rating of 89.64.
Last year, for the 2023 cycle, Clemson and South Carolina finished 11th and 16th in the final standings. That five-spot gap was the closest they’d come across in the rankings since 2017, when Clemson was 16th and South Carolina was 21st (also five spots).
Recruitment isn’t everything, of course: players can have all the skills in the world and still have to perform, as do their trainers. But consistently assembling top talent year after year — particularly four- and five-star recruits — is a fast track to the upper echelons of college football.
USC hasn’t finished ahead of its rival in the 247Sports Composite rankings since the 2012 cycle, when a 25-player Gamecocks class led by wide receiver Shaq Roland and running back Mike Davis finished in 15th, five spots ahead of 20th-ranked Clemson .
Recruiting Trends 2024
South Carolina — which defeated Clemson in football last fall in Death Valley for the first time since 2013 — ended the 2023 recruiting cycle with a bang by picking five-star athlete Nyckoles Harbor of Washington, D.C., the country’s 15th overall recruit , won National Signing Day in February.
The Gamecocks continued down that path for 2024, notably with three signings of state offensive linemen who had also received Clemson scholarship offers.
Woodland’s four-star offensive tackle Kam Pringle (#44 nationally), Dillon’s four-star offensive tackle Josiah Thompson (#71), and Greenville’s three-star offensive guard , Blake Franks (No. 462), have all opted for the Gamecocks Tigers, among other contenders, since January.
Even after the recent departure of three-star offensive tackle Mike Williams, South Carolina remains 10th in the composite rankings thanks to the signings of five other four-star players, including top 150 tight end player Michael Smith Georgia and Georgia linebacker Wendell Gregory.
The top commits in Clemson’s 2024 class are four-star Illinois tight end Christian Bentancur (#83), four-star Georgia defenseman Hevin Brown-Shuler (#205) and four-star Cornerback Tavoy Feagin (No. 227) from Florida. .
The Tigers found themselves in a similar position last summer. They had four signings through June 2022 before adding most of their commitments and star power during a heated summer recruiting spell, including Alabama defensive tackle and No. 33 overall recruit Peter Woods.
This followed a smashing official summer visitation weekend in early June – the first time the Tigers had offered this option to recruits under coach Dabo Swinney (with the stipulation that each participant had already visited campus).
Clemson had previously held back on official summer visits, sticking only to official fall visits even after a 2018 NCAA rule change allowed schools to hold them in June.
That didn’t hurt the Tigers too much. Despite this unique approach, the school has ranked them in the top 15 of at least one primary recruitment service (ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports) every year since 2011, often significantly higher.
During his rise to national prominence, which included six straight stints in the college football playoffs and two stints in national championship games from 2015-2020, Clemson regularly finished ten or more spots ahead of USC in the composite recruiting rankings.
For example, in 2020 Clemson had the No. 3 recruiting class in the country and South Carolina had No. 19. In 2021, Clemson achieved the No. 5 class nationally while USC was in the midst of a coaching change from Will Muschamp to Beamer, quit on 80th place
Now that gap is narrowing, adding an extra layer to the state’s top rivalry as USC tries to pull off something that hasn’t happened since the Steve Spurrier era.
Clemson vs. South Carolina Football Recruitment
Final ranking in the 247Sports Composite Team Recruitment Rankings, dating back to the 2010 Cycle. ** means in progress.
- 2024: South Carolina #10, Clemson #21**
- 2023: Clemson #11, South Carolina #16
- 2022: Clemson #10, South Carolina #24
- 2021: Clemson #5, South Carolina #80
- 2020: Clemson #3, South Carolina #19
- 2019: Clemson #10, South Carolina #21
- 2018: Clemson #7. South Carolina #18
- 2017: Clemson #16, South Carolina #21
- 2016: Clemson #11, South Carolina #25
- 2015: Clemson #9, South Carolina #20
- 2014: Clemson #16, South Carolina #19
- 2013: Clemson #15, South Carolina #20
- 2012: South Carolina #15, Clemson #20
- 2011: Clemson #10, South Carolina #17
- 2010: Clemson #27, South Carolina #34