Clemson’s domination of South Carolina over the past several years has highlighted a number of disparities in the state of the rival programs, especially in regard to talent.
The Tigers’ four-game winning streak against the Gamecocks in the rivalry series has accentuated that South Carolina hasn’t been able to keep up with Clemson on the recruiting trail in recent memory. The gap in the recruiting success of the Palmetto State programs has grown wider over the last several years with Clemson’s rise to the elite in college football and the coinciding rebuilding project at South Carolina. Thus, the Tigers have simply attracted a lot more talent than the Gamecocks, and that has been reflected in the score of the last four games (162-66 in favor of Clemson).
When comparing the two schools’ recruiting classes over the last number of years, there is really no comparison.
From 2011 to 2018 — the best stretch in Clemson history that includes a national championship, four ACC championships, a BCS Bowl victory, three appearances in the College Football Playoff and eight seasons with at least 10 wins — Clemson has finished lower than 14th in the national recruiting rankings only once, according to Rivals.com. The lone exception was 2017, when Clemson signed the 22nd-ranked class. However, that ranking was due in large part to quantity, not quality. The Tigers brought in just 14 players in the 2017 class, but the class’s average star rating was 3.86, the second-highest mark Clemson has posted dating to the beginning of the Rivals database in 2003.
In the past eight years, per Rivals, Clemson has finished in the top 15 of the national recruiting rankings seven times. South Carolina has finished no higher than 16th in the same span.
Moreover, Clemson has signed 20 five-star recruits since 2011 according to Rivals, while the Gamecocks have signed just one five-star in the same timeframe (Jadeveon Clowney, 2011).
In the same span, South Carolina has signed 125 three-star recruits while Clemson has signed only 74.
The trend of Clemson and South Carolina recruiting looks as if it will continue with the next class. South Carolina’s 2019 class is currently ranked No. 20 in the country by Rivals, while Clemson’s 2019 class is currently ranked No. 4 and poised to potentially finish in the top five nationally.
So, Clemson continues to stay ahead of South Carolina in recruiting, and the Tigers aren’t slowing down as they are ranked No. 2 in the country and on track to return to the College Football Playoff for the fourth straight year.
Meanwhile, the Gamecocks went 15-11 the last two seasons and are 6-4 this season under third-year coach Will Muschamp heading into Saturday’s rivalry game against Clemson at Death Valley. It’s clear they have a long way to go to get to where the Tigers are – on both the field and the recruiting trail.