USC football’s 2023 recruiting class hits historic mark after Nyckoles Harbor signing

Five-star recruit Nyckoles Harbor’s commitment to South Carolina football on Wednesday did more than just set Gamecock Twitter ablaze.

It gave USC its best recruiting class in a decade.

Factoring in the signing of Harbor, a Washington, D.C., track star who will play wide receiver at South Carolina and ranks as the No. 1 athlete recruit in the country, South Carolina ended Wednesday with the No. 16 recruiting class in the country, according to the 247Sports Composite that factors in all networks.

The Gamecocks haven’t hit that mark since 2012, when a 30-player class featuring wide receiver Shaq Roland, running back Mike Davis and eight other four-star recruits finished No. 15 in the 247Sports Composite.

Harbor, the No. 19 recruit nationally, is the top player in South Carolina’s 2023 class. Coach Shane Beamer and company also signed 11 four-star recruits and 12 three-star recruits for a final tally of 24 players and a “team score” of 255.64 on 247Sports. That’s also the seventh-best 2023 signing class among SEC teams, per the 247Sports Composite.

On top of landing Harbor, South Carolina excelled with in-state recruits and finished the cycle with four of the top five prospects in the Palmetto State.

Dorman offensive lineman Markee Anderson, Camden defensive lineman Xzavier McLeod, South Florence quarterback LaNorris Sellers and Manning edge rusher Monteque Rhames — all four-star recruits — signed with the Gamecocks in the December early period.

Other top out-of-state prospects in South Carolina’s 2023 class include four-star Maryland edge rusher Desmond Umeozulu (No. 144 nationally), four-star Georgia athlete Vicari Swain (No. 180), four-star Florida linebacker Grayson “Pup” Howard (No. 183).

In website-specific rankings, South Carolina finished No. 17 according to 247Sports, No. 17 on Rivals, No. 16 on On3 Sports and No. 15 by ESPN for the 2023 class. ESPN’s rankings had USC’s class as the fifth best in the SEC.

The No. 16 composite rankings was a notable jump from Beamer’s first full signing class, which was No. 24 in the Class of 2022.

USC’s top-ranked signing class since 2012, which also includes 10 players from the transfer portal, should at least partially offset a number of prominent departures.

Defensive lineman Jordan Burch (Oregon), tight end Jaheim Bell (FSU), running back MarShawn Lloyd (Southern Cal) and edge rusher Gilber Edmond (FSU) — four starters who played key roles in USC’s 8-5 season in 2022 — all transferred to new schools.

South Carolina’s No. 16 composite ranking could drop with further updates, but that’s unlikely. Recruiting sites usually finalize their class rankings on or around the February signing day. Plus, there’s only one recruit among the 247Sports top 300 who’s uncommitted as of Thursday, and he’s been projected to choose Georgia.

The Gamecocks’ recruiting hot streak has carried over into the Class of 2024, where they currently have the No. 10 class nationally. All four commitments rank as four-star recruits.

Hammond defender Jordan Burch affirmed his decision to stick with the South Carolina Gamecocks in a signing day ceremony at the high school.
Hammond defender Jordan Burch affirmed his decision to stick with the South Carolina Gamecocks in a signing day ceremony at the high school.

South Carolina has frequently been in the top 25 of 247Sports’ composite team rankings in the modern recruiting era, which dates back to the early 2000s.

Beamer’s predecessor, Will Muschamp, was considered an excellent recruiter and signed four consecutive top 25 recruiting classes from 2017 to 2020 with a high mark of No. 18 in 2018. Muschamp also had the No. 19 composite recruiting class in 2020.

The back half of Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina tenure also included some strong recruiting classes: From 2011 to 2015, the Gamecocks ranked no lower than No. 15 in the composite rankings.

USC’s high mark in the modern recruiting era remains the Class of 2007, which ESPN ranked as the fourth best in the nation. That group featured, among others, quarterback Stephen Garcia, cornerback Chris Culliver and linebacker Melvin Ingram.

SEC football 2023 recruiting rankings, per 247Sports

  • No. 1: Alabama, 28 commits

  • No. 2: Georgia, 26 commits

  • No. 3: LSU, 25 commits

  • No. 4: Tennessee, 25 commits

  • No. 5: Florida, 20 commits

  • No. 6: Texas A&M, 19 commits

  • No. 7: South Carolina, 24 commits

  • No. 8: Auburn, 21 commits

  • No. 9: Arkansas, 20 commits

  • No. 10: Mississippi State, 27 commits

  • No. 11: Ole Miss, 15 commits

  • No. 12: Kentucky, 19 commits

  • No. 13: Missouri, 19 commits

  • No. 14: Vanderbilt, 22 commits