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Feb. 6, 2013

COACH SPURRIER: Okay, appreciate you all coming. Little more dressed up than usual. Right, Glen? Trying to act like those big time ball coaches. No, just kidding. We’ve got a reception here later on tonight with our booster people and so forth, so I actually got dressed a little early tonight.

Anyway, let’s talk about this 2013 class. I believe we have is it 18? 21, 21, yeah, 18 fresh ones and three that were already here. So we have 21 incoming freshmen. We believe it’s a good, solid bunch of young men that will fit in very well here at South Carolina, and help us continue winning a whole bunch of games and hopefully a conference championship real soon.

Really proud of a lot of these guys. Out of state, as you can tell, we’re mostly out of state this year. What is it? Four in state guys, something like that? 4 out of 21. So it was a little bit of an out of state year.

Especially proud of Jonathan Walton, young man from the Mobile, Alabama, area that withstood a strong pull from the in state school Auburn there to hang on with us. We think he’s going to come in and really help us at linebacker possibly even this year.

Obviously, we signed more defensive players than offense because we had more seniors on last year’s team there. So there is a chance a lot of these guys could come in and play this coming year. Connor Mitch, quarterback, he’s on campus here now. I saw him out on the field throwing as I looked out my window today and yesterday. He’s out throwing about every day.

Seems like he’s grown a little bit. He’s a good 6’3″, and he’s a young man that really likes football and likes throwing it around. So we’ll see how he develops as he goes through his career here.

Other than that, I’ll turn it over to Steve, Jr. But are there any questions for me, first? Let’s do that first.

Q. In terms of Connor being here, Connor Mitch being here this spring, how much of an advantage is that for a quarterback to have a spring in the system where he can just kind of focus on learning it?

COACH SPURRIER: Yeah, Connor Shaw was actually here early also. It may have helped him a bit. We didn’t red shirt Connor shell. There is a chance Connor Mitch may be red shirted, it just depends on how it goes. But he’s fine with that. He’s ready to contribute anyway he can.

Brendan Nosovitch now is a player we red shirted lasted year that we believe is going to be a very good player also. So you have Dylan and Brendan Nosovitch and Connor Mitch probably pitching it around most of the spring.

Q. Five offensive linemen? Is that part of the plan, and how do you feel about that group?

COACH SPURRIER: Yeah, I think it just sort of worked out that way. T.J. Johnson was the only senior last year, and we were able to red shirt a few of the freshmen from last year’s class. But, next year we’ll probably be a little light on O linemen. I think it was the year we were able to get four or five guys, and they looked pretty good. So, next year, we’ll probably be a little lighter on the O line. But Coach Elliott is fired up about these guys.

Q. You obviously got plenty of depth at running back. Can you bring in another guy in David Williams who is a big recruit coming in? And also, one defensive tackle, Kelsey Griffin, also a big four star guy? Kind of talk about both of those?

COACH SPURRIER: David Williams from the Philly area. Yeah, we’re high on him. He’s going to come in and have a chance to compete right away. We like Brandon Wilds, Mike Davis, and some other backs that are here. But David should be able to come in and compete for playing time and see how it goes.

The other player you were talking about?

Q. Kelsey.

COACH SPURRIER: Kelsey, yeah. Kelsey’s a big defensive lineman, and you’ve always got to have those guys. So we’ll see how he develops.

Q. Your class is ranked anywhere from 16 to 22nd. I don’t know if you pay much attention to that. But today sort of illustrates how tough it is to keep up in the SEC, so many SEC teams ranked highly in recruiting. Does that make it more difficult to do what you want to do, which is win a conference title?

COACH SPURRIER: Yeah, when you’re watching that TV today, you’re saying, man, I’m glad I’m in the eastern side instead of in the western side. But, yeah, that recruiting can be a little deceiving at times. You never know what you’ve got until you really, really play it out and so forth.

The only thing I know, back in 2008, I think Florida had the No. 1 class, and two years later that No. 1 class drove Urban Meyer to retirement.

Of course, he came back a year later and he’s an excellent coach, but I know later there were comments that that No. 1 class just didn’t pan out.

Of course, it usually pans out at Alabama every year. But, again, recruiting is extremely important, but after they get there is really what’s most important.

Q. When you lost your two deep at middle linebacker and your weak side linebacker and also your spur, I see you bring in four linebackers. How quickly will these guys get in the mix?

COACH SPURRIER: They’ll compete with the players that we have here, and we’ll see where we are. Obviously, a lot of them will have a chance to play.

Q. We see a team, we, the media and fan base, see a team like Ole Miss, an upstart that had such a good recruiting year, and people start to wonder how they do it. Do coaches think the same way? Do you say wow, what is Hugh Freeze doing over there?

COACH SPURRIER: They did have an excellent year, it appears, and they did an excellent job, their coaches, getting out and as they say, and developing relationships. Ole Miss won their bowl game, went 7 6. They had some momentum, but basically, they got out and hustled and convinced players you can win, win big at Ole Miss.

I think it was helpful to have the No. 1 recruit, his brother already on the team. That had to be helpful too. So they had a lot of good things going. But give Hugh Freeze and his staff credit for doing an excellent recruiting job this year.

Q. Can you just talk about the state of the SEC and how strong it is when you just look at the recruiting classes – how many are just in the top 20 alone and just the strength of your conference in the league right now.

COACH SPURRIER: Well, the national media boards were talking about that, that a whole bunch of schools down here are ranked. Again, the rankings are not everything. So I heard Lou Holtz, in fact, he was on there later saying that you’re never going to see TCU or Boise State or Stanford, and they didn’t talk much about Oregon either all day.

And those guys are winning 10, 11 games year after year.

It’s important, don’t get me wrong, but after they get there I believe it’s most important.

Q. In the past, I know you’ve been proud of guys hanging with their commitment. That didn’t happen all the way through for this year’s class. Any particular reason?

COACH SPURRIER: Well, most of them did, I think. Some of them maybe left early. But, overall, it was a pretty good group. Our coaches did an excellent job all recruiting season again. We missed a few guys here and there, but overall we’re in pretty good shape.

Steve and the staff and our players our players do a good job too. So wherever we were ranked, we maybe weren’t on a whole bunch of real top notch, high, five star guys this year. Hopefully, next year maybe we’ll be on some of those kind of guys, huh?


COACH SPURRIER: Hopefully. Yeah, ask Steve a few questions. He can tell you a little bit more about these guys.

Q. We’ve seen these pictures on TV and whatever, and all these staff sitting around the big conference table all day. I don’t envision you doing that?


Q. How do you spend the day recruiting? What do you do on this day?

COACH SPURRIER: Well, I have my usual workout at about 10:30 to 11:30, quarter to 12:00, something like that. Then came back and checked on the faxes. I think all of them were in, except maybe one that we weren’t sure of. That was about it. Made a few calls here and there, called a few of the guys that came with us, so that’s about what I do.

You’re not going to see me doing a whole bunch of rah rah’ing on signing day. I don’t think I ever have too much. But it’s an important day. I’m not trying to sound like it’s not important. But we’d rather make our noise out here in Williams Brice on game day. That’s where we prefer making our noise rather than on signing day. But we’re fired up about these guys. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a good, solid class. But the real noise, I think, is on game days.

Q. With the new rules the NCAA is putting in, will you keep Steve Jr. as recruiting coordinator or will you look at if they’re going to allow you to bring in somebody that’s not a full time staff member to be a recruiting coordinator, if you choose?

COACH SPURRIER: Well, he’s going to be the staff recruiting coordinator. Robbie Liles is sort of director of recruiting, which Robbie does a lot now making sure seven guys are on the road, where we are, travel, scholarship numbers, and all that kind of stuff.

So Robbie Liles is sort of our on campus, and off campus recruiting director. We gave him the term director. We gave him the name coordinator.

Q. Steve Jr., the linebackers you guys got, if you could just run down real quick where at this early juncture you see each of those guys in terms of whether it’s going to be spur or inside?

COACH SPURRIER JR.: Yeah, it’s hard to say. We have to wait till they get here. I tell you Gerald Turner and David Johnson are two big guys. Those guys weigh 250, and 260 something, I believe. So their position will be a little different than Larenz Bryant who weighs 215 right now. Those guys will start a little more outside and move their way in.

But they all get here. They get here in the summer. They all train. They kind of fit into their position. Then you kind of find out how smart they are and who can learn the most, and who is the most ready to play, and I would presume that the defensive coaches would get them on the field with whoever is most prepared to play.

Q. To follow up on the linebackers. When you have such an obvious need at a position, does it make for a pressure filled recruiting season, or does it make it easy to go to these guys and say look at all the spots we’ve got?

COACH SPURRIER JR.: I’d like to think it makes it a little easier. Your opportunity to come play and play right now is as good as it’s going to get. I think we’ve got four or five guys really on that position that are ready and hungry to go play. The guys you recruit are guys that want to play. I want that opportunity to go play right now.

So certainly when you have a lot of opportunities and you can sign a lot of guys at that position, I think it helps you.

Q. Kind of following up on having a quarterback in particular on campus for the spring before, from your experience, what is the value in that and how much more can a guy pick up?

COACH SPURRIER JR.: In my opinion, I hate to defer, but I think being here helps a lot at any position to go through a spring or winter conditioning. Sometimes it’s tough, too. We’ve had some guys come early and didn’t like it very much and they struggled with it.

But if you get a guy that’s mature and tough and ready to go to work and absorb a lot of information, he gets a lot these next few months. To be able to go through all of these meetings and to go through spring football gives him a leg up down the road, whether it’s this year or two, three years down the road. I’d like to hope that that helps him.

COACH SPURRIER: We don’t really advocate that they come early. It’s really an individual decision. If a young man certainly wants to stay and enjoy his senior year of high school, if he plays another sport, especially, he should stay back and play.

But some young men, they’re ready to go. They’re ready to go to college.

So Connor Mitch was that way. He’s ready to get in there and start learning the playbook, and I think he’s out there throwing maybe he may be out there right now.

Have you looked out on the game field? I tell you what, with this sunshine and 75°, that grass is as green on February 6th as it was during the season.

Q. Ten from neighboring states, six from Georgia, four from North Carolina. Are those the numbers that you’re happy with?

COACH SPURRIER JR.: I think every year it’s different. In our state this year, the numbers weren’t as high as they’ve been in the past, and I think they’re going to be higher next year. When that happens, you kind of move on to one of your next closest states.

Georgia, again, just the numbers they have. We have a bunch of coaches at a high school banquet yesterday, and they talked about all players from the state of Georgia that are playing in the SEC and just the large numbers that there are.

So we’ll continue to recruit, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina pretty hard, and then continue to stress how well we can do in state.

Q. I don’t know whether Skai Moore let you guys know before he let everyone else know where he was going to pick? But where were you guys when he was sort of the guy that was the news of the day? Can you talk about where you were or maybe he told you before he told everyone else?

COACH SPURRIER JR.: I know he talked to Coach Grady Brown, and Coach Botkin a good bit.

COACH SPURRIER: Yeah, he talked to me before. I think most of the time, without going into great detail on that, that the players that keep it quiet, I think they tell the school they’re going to. I think. I don’t know. Most all of them have told me when they’re coming with me. Sometimes they say they’re coming and they don’t (laughing).

But I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten one that didn’t tell me he was coming. So, yeah. We had a good idea about him. We had a real good idea, yeah.

COACH SPURRIER JR.: But that was nice to have him come today. It was good. It was a good way to close out the day.

COACH SPURRIER: Yeah, it was. We think he’s a very good player that could play that sort of outside linebacker, spur position, and so forth.

Q. I know this time last year you all talked about how much having Lattimore helped in recruiting. How much does it help now to have a guy like Clowney that gets so much public attention and to let the guys come meet him on campus, too?

COACH SPURRIER JR.: Certainly, like all great players, people know who he is. Anytime you’re on campus or at a basketball game with recruits and they all just see his presence, you kind of recognize how important he is. How important football is here, and how much of an impact you can make coming into the SEC and being a great player. So I know he’s a special guy to have around.

COACH SPURRIER: I think he does help, and Marcus certainly helped. But I sort of believe your freshmen guys should be the ones because they’re going to be here hopefully another three years. So Jadeveon is going to play one more season, as we know, so incoming freshman, he may want to play one year with him. But he knows he’s not going to play his career or three years or so with a player that’s only got one more season.

But, again, Jadaveon does a super job meeting all the guys on their visits and shaking hands and so forth. He’s good in recruiting. Very good.

Q. No wide receivers?

COACH SPURRIER JR.: No wide receivers. Can you believe that? Yeah, we went after we targeted a couple early, but said we weren’t going to take an average player. If we had a chance to take a great one, we were going to do that. If not, we didn’t feel we needed one.

At the time we weren’t sure if Ace was going to leave or not. That may have changed it a little bit. But we feel pretty good about the group we have. Again, going into next year, we think we can sign two or three great ones, and we look forward to that.

COACH SPURRIER: Yeah, this spring will be a wonderful opportunity for those young receivers that haven’t done much here yet. Shaq Roland, Kwinton Smith, Shamier Jeffery. Shamier’s had a change in attitude. He’s been going to everything on time, hustling. He looks like he wants to play. So it will be an interesting spring for all those receivers.

Damiere Byrd, saw him in the weight room today, and he’s still running track. I think he goes to Arkansas this week to run the 60. But he needs to catch a whole bunch of passes this spring also. See if we can get him ready to be a full time wide receiver.

Q. ESPN was at 13 schools today, including Clemson and many around the SEC with the entire college nation kind of watching all day. You see the coaches and you talk about the war room and that sort of stuff. Is that a bonus for those schools to get that kind of coverage? Did they approach you guys about coming to Columbia?

COACH SPURRIER: Did they call and ask this year? Some years they ask. A couple of them ask to call me. Yeah, I didn’t do any of those, did I? Yeah, it wasn’t that big a deal. But I know what you mean though. It was interesting because obviously we’re sitting in there most of the day watching everything. Finally they did stroll through there, had us number 17 or something. So I said at least they know we’re still around somewhere.

But, yeah, we didn’t get a lot of PR today, but that’s okay. That’s okay. It’s a good, solid bunch of guys. It really is, excellent group. May turn out to be one of our best groups. Who knows. Who knows until we kick it off and start playing.

COACH SPURRIER JR.: I think some schools like to celebrate this day a lot, too. And I don’t think it necessarily that’s our ultimate objective to make this one of the most important days of the year.

COACH SPURRIER: If you don’t have a very good season, you need something to get the fans excited for next year, as you know, Glen. But I’ve never tried to overhype it. I hope I haven’t. But this is a good, solid group of guys here. A lot of them are going to be very good players here.