Shane Beamer breaks down 2023 class on national signing day

South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer doesn’t have time for negative narratives.

Mere seconds into his Wednesday afternoon signing day news conference, Beamer pointed to critics who said the Gamecocks “lost momentum” as a program after their win against rival Clemson in November.

“Rumors of our demise were greatly exaggerated,” Beamer said, with his usual heart-on-sleeve zest.

After a couple weeks of losing star players like Jaheim Bell, MarShawn Lloyd and Cam Smith to the transfer portal and NFL Draft, Beamer and the Gamecocks had a victory to celebrate on the recruiting trail, reeling in a 2023 class that ranks No. 16 in the nation in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

All but one of the team’s 22 commits signed with the school on the first day of the early signing period, which runs from Wednesday through Friday. And Beamer hinted that more signings could be on the way.

“We’re off to a great start, without a doubt,” Beamer said. “And we got better as a program for sure with these young men and their families today on and off the field.”

The 2023 class is the kind Beamer helped recruit during his time as an assistant under Steve Spurrier, classes that included the likes of Jadeveon Clowney and Marcus Lattimore and were heavy on local talent. Winning in-state recruiting battles was a core mission that Beamer presented on the day he was hired, and the 2023 class might be the best example yet of him working to fulfill that promise.

Offensive lineman Markee Anderson and defensive linemen Monteque Rhames and Xzavier McLeod were all highly recruited four-star, in-state prospects who chose the Gamecocks over other big-name programs. USC targeted those three specific players almost as soon as Beamer got to campus, the head coach said Wednesday.

“We always want to start here in this state,” Beamer said. “You look at the rankings of the top players in South Carolina, we signed three of the top four in the state of South Carolina, which is huge.

“I say it all the time: That’s how we got this program to a high level where we’re playing for the SEC championship. It’s doing it by keeping the best players in South Carolina at home.”

Anderson, Rhames and McLeod headline a deep group of offensive and defensive linemen in this class. With offensive line veterans Eric Douglas, Jovaughn Gwynn and Dylan Wonnum moving on and defender Zacch Pickens declaring for the draft, the Gamecocks could use fortification on both lines.

Notably, the Gamecocks signed a pair of promising Maryland products in defensive end Desmond Umeozulu — who chose USC over Ohio State — and four-star offensive tackle Tosin “Tree” Babalade.

Tight end was another key area of fortification, with the Gamecocks losing Austin Stogner, Bell and Traevon Kenion. The Gamecocks signed three tight ends and added two more through the transfer portal, highlighted by former Arkansas tight end Trey Knox. And Beamer said the Gamecocks could also add another tight end or two.

Beamer also hinted that USC is still in the market for a quarterback, with Class of 2023 target LaNorris Sellers announcing his destination Friday.

“Certainly we’re not done,” Beamer said. “There’s a lot of work still to do with the class that we’re putting together.”

USC Class of 2023 signees

The following players had signed as of Wednesday night. The early signing period runs through Friday.

  • RB Dontavius Braswell, Sandersville (Ga.)
  • OL Trovon Baugh, Atlanta (Ga.)
  • OL Jatavius Shivers, Villa Rica (Ga.)
  • OL Markee Anderson, Roebuck
  • OL Oluwatosin Babalade, Hyattsville (Md.)
  • WR CJ Adams, Mableton (Ga.)
  • WR Tyshawn Russell, Harrisburg (Pa.)
  • WR Kelton Henderson, Lehigh Acres (Fla.)
  • TE Connor Cox, Jacksonville, Fla.
  • TE Reid Mikeska, Cypress (Tx)
  • TE Kamron Sandlin, Anniston (Ala.)
  • S Judge Collier, Rock Hill
  • DL Elijah Davis, Wagener/East Miss. CC
  • DL Xzavier McLeod, Camden
  • DE Monteque Rhames, Sumter
  • DE Desmond Umeozulu, Upper Marlboro (Md.)
  • LB Grayson Howard, Jacksonville (Fla.)
  • S Jalon Kilgore, Eatonton (Ga.)
  • S Zahbari Sandy, St John’s, Washington (DC)
  • S Cam Upshaw, Perry (Fla.)
  • ATH Vicari Swain, Carrollton (Ga.)

USC class by position


  • Running Back (1): Djay Braswell
  • Wide Receiver (3): CJ Adams, Kelton Henderson, Tyshwn Russell
  • Tight End (3): Connor Cox, Reid Mikeska, Kamron Sandlin
  • Offensive Line (4): Markee Anderson, Tosin Babalade, Trovon Baugh, Jatavius Shivers


  • Defensive Line (2): Elijah Davis, Xzavier McLeod
  • Edge (2): Monteque Rhames II, Desmond Umeolzulu
  • Linebacker (1): Grayson Howard
  • Defensive Back (5): Judge Collier, Jalon Kilgore, Zahbari Sandy, Vicari Swain, Cam Upshaw

USC class by state

  • Georgia (6): CJ Adams, Trovon Baugh, Djay Braswell, Jalon Kilgore, Jatavius Shivers, Vicari Swain
  • South Carolina (5): Markee Anderson, Judge Collier, Elijah Davis, Xzavier McLeod, Monteque Rhames
  • Florida (4): Connor Cox, Kelton Henderson, Grayson Howard, Cam Upshaw
  • Maryland (2): Tosin Babalade, Desmond Umeozulu
  • Alabama (1): Kamron Sandlin
  • Pennsylvania (1): Tyshawn Russell
  • Texas (1): Reid Mikeska
  • Washington, D.C. (1): Zahbari Sandy

Michael Lananna specializes in Gamecocks athletics and storytelling projects for The State. Featured in Best American Sports Writing 2018, Lananna covered college baseball nationally before moving to Columbia in 2020. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 2014 with a degree in journalism.
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