It was something that was coming eventually.
The South Carolina football roster had only lost one player to attrition since the calendar rolled over to 2020. One Gamecocks defensive lineman (Griffin Gentry) had left before spring, and on Monday offensive lineman Summie Carley entered the transfer portal.
In the past, these happenings would’ve opened up some opportunities. They still do, to a degree, but also bring into focus the fallout of one of the recent changes to recruiting rules.
Historically teams could add personnel they needed whenever. But in recent years, the NCAA enacted changes that limited teams to adding about 25 players a year with a little wiggle room.
Will Muschamp’s staff has gone in on grad transfers (at least four), and had a couple of traditional transfers come and not contribute (at least two). And now, it will take some things breaking right for the team to get to the maximum of 85 scholarship players come fall.
Breaking down South Carolina’s roster, USC currently sits at 81 scholarship players, with plans to enroll two freshmen in August and put transfer Adam Prentice on scholarship at that time, which allows them to count toward the 2021 recruiting class.
This means any other new additions would eat into the 25 spots in the group.
That might not be as much of an issue considering the shutdown around the coronavirus pandemic might make smaller classes next year more prudent. The staff didn’t seem highly content with the receiver group early in spring, and if an interesting name came on the grad transfer market, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine USC would take a look.
The shutdown has also changed some of the natural attrition dynamics around spring. Often players see where they stand after 15 practices, and if it’s not where they want they look for other options. Without all of spring ball, it’s not yet clear when, or if, some of these decisions will be made.
Oftentimes a team makes it into the start of camp and then hands out a scholarship to a walk-on. To have that not count toward that 25 limit, the player has to have been on campus for at least two seasons. There are 10 players who are eligible for that, none who played notable roles even on special teams last season (and only three even played against FBS opponents last season).
In some ways, the roster changes might be responsible for some lesser-used veterans staying around as long as they did. There’s no longer the incentive to open up spots. For USC at the moment, there certainly is no incentive, as the offseason could still bring more departures.
South Carolina’s scholarship breakdown:
Players already enrolled on scholarship
Ryan Hilinski, Luke Doty, Jay Urich, Collin Hill
MarShawn Lloyd, Deshaun Fenwick, Kevin Harris
Josh Vann, Dakereon Joyner, Randrecous Davis, Shi Smith, Xavier Legette, OrTre Smith, Tyquan Johnson, Chad Terrell, Mike Wyman
Nick Muse, Traevon Kenion, Chandler Farrell, Keveon Mullins, KeShawn Toney, Will Register
Sadarius Hutcherson, Jaylen Nichols, Jovaughn Gwyn, Jakai Moore, William Rogers, Mark Fox, Tyshawn Wannamaker, Wyatt Campbell, Hank Manos, Eric Douglas, Trai Jones, Vincent Murphy, Jazston Turnetine, Jordan Rhodes, Vershon Lee, Dylan Wonnum
Keir Thomas, Aaron Sterling, Zacch Pickens, Kingsley Enagbare, Rick Sandidge, Tyreek Johnson, Joseph Anderson, M.J. Webb, Devontae Davis, Jabari Ellis
Rodricus Fitten, Brad Johnson
Damani Staley, Mohamed Kaba, Jahmar Brown, Rosendo Louis Jr., Sherrod Greene, Spencer Eason-Riddle, Ernest Jones
Jaycee Horn, Jaylin Dickerson, Jammie Robinson, Cam Smith, R.J. Roderick, Dominick Hill, Shilo Sanders, John Dixon, Israel Mukuamu, O’Donnell Fortune, Darius Rush
Signed freshmen or junior college players not yet enrolled: 12
(Three DL, Jordan Burch, Alex Huntley, Tonka Hemingway; two tight ends, Eric Shaw, Jaheim Bell; two running backs, ZaQaundre White, Rashad Amos; two receivers, Rico Powers, Ger-Cari Caldwell; one defensive back, Joey Hunter; one defensive lineman, Makius Scott; one linebacker, Gilbert Edmond)
Specialists enrolling in August: 2 (Kai Kroeger, Mitch Jeter)
Adam Prentice going on scholarship in August: 1