The staff has been striving to meet that commitment ever since, and earlier this week, JSU saw tangible benefits of the effort.
Nearly 400 high school prospects were on campus earlier this week for a Night of Champions camp in the JSU Stadium.
And they weren’t just limited to Alabama.
They came from a dozen states, some from as far away as California, Connecticut, Texas and the Carolinas.
“Coach Clark believes our recruiting foundation starts locally, within a two-hour radius of campus, but we want to have an impact and get our name out all over the state, Southeast and country,” Gamecocks recruiting and passing game coordinator Jody Wright said. “Coach Clark reminds us every day that we are not recruiting to win the (Ohio Valley) Conference, we are recruiting to win a national championship.
“He has a vision and plan for where he wants this program to go. He tells us every day that if we are good at something we need to be striving to be great. One of our team mottos is ‘Do it better than it has ever been done before.’”
When prospects couldn’t come to JSU, the Gamecocks went to them. They held traveling camps in Birmingham, Dothan, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery during the summer, drawing nearly 200 players to each site. The Night of Champions was the culmination of that effort.
It has been a fruitful enterprise. The Gamecocks already have extended offers to strong-armed Louisville (Miss.) quarterback Wyatt Roberts and Tuscaloosa County junior quarterback Seth Franks.
They also received a commitment from Sweet Water running back/defensive back Jakoby Aldridge.
The 5-foot-6, 155-pound rising senior, a former teammate of recent Auburn transfer Chris Landrum, rushed for more than 1,600 yards and scored 23 touchdowns last season.
The Gamecocks also are said to be keeping a keen eye on Lincoln linemen Jauntavious Johnson and Shedrick Thomas, Weaver athlete Tim Hawkins and two-way Saks standout Tremon Smith. All four were said to have impressed in the areas tested during the three-hour Champions visit.
Camp officials estimated more than 100 of the Champions prospects on campus would likely sign college scholarships somewhere.
The Gamecocks aren’t finished looking at prospects this summer. On Monday and Tuesday they will be holding a 7-on-7 tournament featuring more than 25 high school teams.
Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.