Coming into National Signing Day, South Carolina head football coach Shane Beamer was determined to improve his team with one of the nation's top recruits still in play and a talented class nearly wrapped up.
With his highest-ranked group of signees yet, Beamer did just that.
The 2023 Gamecock recruiting class ranks No. 16 nationally, ahead of College Football Playoff participants Michigan and TCU, according to 247Sports. South Carolina has the seventh-best class in the SEC, ranking above Auburn, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt.
This class includes 12 three-star recruits, 11 four-star recruits and one five-star recruit, athlete Nyckoles Harbor, who is now the seventh highest-rated Gamecock recruit all-time. Beamer said this commitment came down to his motto of relationships.
“Four months from now you're going to be moving into a dorm somewhere, and all these other people, they're not. It's you and your life, and it's about the people that you want to be around day in, day out,” Beamer said.
Harbor's commitment is not just for football, as he will plans to run track at USC. Head track and field coach Curtis Frye said Harbor is an anomaly and a fantastic athlete, comparing him to some legendary track and field athletes like Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt.
"Carl didn't run 10.2 as a 17-year-old,” Frye said. "His acceleration pattern is as good as Carl, Leroy or Bolt. Bolt broke American records and ran 9.7s."
Beamer also spoke about the defensive side of the ball after the Gamecocks inked defensive lineman Elijah Davis from the junior college ranks and edge rusher Jaron Willis, a transfer from Ole Miss.
"I don't think you can ever have too many of those body types," Beamer said.
Beamer joked that he was playing catch up with Willis since he was unable to sign him out of high school but is excited that he is a part of the team now.
As for Davis, Beamer hopes to slot the East Mississippi Community College product into a role similar to junior defensive tackle Tonka Hemingway as a versatile body on the interior of the defensive line.
"I think Elijah is a guy like Tonka. Tonka was a defensive tackle all season for us, who played defensive end in the bowl game and played really well at it. I think those two guys, they have some position flexibility," Beamer said.
Beamer also spoke very highly of new offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, highlighting the recruiting impact of Loggains' NFL experience as they have traveled together over the past three weeks.
“Being able to see him up close and personal from a recruiting standpoint, he’s been awesome,” Beamer said.
Loggains was instrumental in the recruiting of offensive players like Harbor and wide receivers Elijah Caldwell and Eddie Lewis. Beamer emphasized signing guys like Caldwell and Lewis really boosted the depth of the wide receiver position with the departures of seniors Josh Vann and Jalen Brooks.
"We are really excited, obviously, about this group that we just put together, and it was already a pretty special signing class before today," Beamer said.