The nation's No. 1 recruit, defensive end Da'Shawn Hand, had a two-day visit with the South Carolina Gamecocks this past weekend, and his visit means a lot as far as his recruitment and the South Carolina football program.
South Carolina is one of the nation's most intriguing teams and has been on the rise ever since Steve Spurrier took over as the head ball coach.
Now, the Gamecocks' on-field success, their status as a national championship contender and the recruitment of top players like Jadeveon Clowney and Marcus Lattimore is paying off.
Hand recently visited Columbia and enjoyed his time with the Gamecocks as well as his tour of the team's facilities.
According to The Post and Courier, "It was a great visit. (Jadeveon) Clowney is a fun guy, very genuine, very honest. I liked the entire coaching staff. The food was amazing. As far as football- related facilities, every college has them, some are big and some are small, so that doesn’t faze me anymore."
As the No. 1 recruit in the country and a defensive end, Hand seems to be following in Clowney's shoes, which also comes with a lot of pressure.
Clowney has dominated opposing offensive lines from the moment he put on the garnet and black, and Hand would become the successor to Clowney if he commits to South Carolina.
However, Hand's visit has much larger implications than him being a potential successor to one of college football's best players of the last decade. The high interest from Hand to make a visit further asserts South Carolina's position as an elite, desirable location for top recruits to carry out their football careers.
South Carolina's success as a football program is relatively recent. The Gamecocks are an interesting team that is full of energy and passion to win the SEC, end the dominance of Alabama and bring home a national championship.
While hauling in Clowney when he was the nation's top recruit was nothing short of huge for the school, landing a second No. 1 recruit would affirm South Carolina as a recruiting powerhouse and landing spot for elite high school players.
South Carolina's recruiting presence keeps on improving under Spurrier. Hand is from Virginia, an out-of-state recruit, which speaks volumes as to how far the Gamecocks have come as a program in the last decade.
It used to be a rarity to see a top out-of-state recruit consider South Carolina, let alone make a visit.
Those times are in the distant past now for the Gamecocks' football program.
Not only is Hand's interest and visit big for South Carolina's long-term recruiting, but it is also important for this year's class.
If Hand shows interest in the Gamecocks, then others may follow suit in a domino effect. Yet only time will tell.
South Carolina is considered to sit behind Michigan and Virginia Tech as the front-runners to land Hand, but could make a move down the stretch, especially if the Gamecocks utilize Clowney as a recruiting chip. After all, Hand and Clowney seemed to have had a connection during Hand's visit.
The Gamecocks' defensive success and the presence of Clowney are the main reasons for drawing interest from Hand.
As the recruiting battle heats up, South Carolina will try to land the nation's No. 1 recruit—and hopefully the Gamecocks can, since Hand is quite the talent. Yet the interest and visit from Hand alone show how far this program has come and that the future of South Carolina football is bright.
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