The Gamecocks' small December signing class of eight players, six offensive and two defensive, was “by design," according to South Carolina football head coach Shane Beamer.
“You’re trying to ... talk to them about your vision, what you want your program to look like, what it is going to be about on the field, how I see them fitting in,” Beamer said regarding the recruiting process in a Wednesday press conference. “It takes a lot of trust.”
The first player to sign with South Carolina was quarterback Colten Gauthier of Bethlehem, Georgia, who plays for Hebron Christian Academy.
Gauthier is a “really productive football player," Beamer said, and has thrown for 2,000 yards in each of his three years as a starting quarterback. Beamer said Gauthier is “the kind of guy that is a leader that you can build a program around.”
Beamer also said Gauthier did “an amazing job of recruiting other players.”
South Carolina signed two wide receivers in its class: Sam Reynolds from Thompson High School in Alabaster, Alabama, and O’Mega Blake from South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
“Any time you get a player from South Pointe High School, you know you’ve done something well," Beamer said.
Reynolds recently led his high school team to a state championship.
“He's a guy that’s just a playmaker; can do a lot of different things,” Beamer said. “He’s used to winning.”
At defensive back, South Carolina signed Marcellas Dial from Georgia Military College, though he is originally from Woodruff, South Carolina.
Beamer said “defensive back is certainly an area we have got to improve our depth,” and he “really enjoyed visiting” with Dial.
The class is rounded out by offensive lineman Jordan Davis from Creekside High School in Fairburn, Georgia; Nicolas Barrett, a defensive lineman from Eastern Wayne High School in Goldsboro, North Carolina; and Caleb "Juju" McDowell, a running back from Lee County High School in Leesburg, Georgia.
Wednesday night, JonDarius Morgan, offensive lineman from Huffman High School in Birmingham, Alabama, signed with the Gamecocks.
Beamer said this early signing day is just the beginning of the recruiting process for South Carolina, and he said he wants to “improve the depth ... at every single position,” but went on to specifically address the wide receiver, linebacker and defensive back positions as areas he is focused on.
Beamer said he appreciates the excitement and energy he’s seen from Gamecock fans through announcing the signing class.
“I want to thank our fanbase. These young men that we’re recruiting and are signing today and that we’re still recruiting, they feel the energy from the South Carolina fanbase,” Beamer said. “They feel the excitement in Columbia right now.”