COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - After a disappointing finish to the 2010 season, the University of South Carolina Gamecocks will start the 2011 season ranked in the top 15 in the USA Today preseason football coaches poll.
There's probably no doubt the nation's football coaches had thoughts of players like Marcus Lattimore, Jadeveon Clowney, Stephen Garcia and Alshon Jeffery when deciding to rank the Gamecocks #12 in the country in their first poll on Thursday.
USC finished the season at #22 after the team's 26-17 loss to Florida State in the 2010 Chick-Fil-A Bowl, but bagging the country's number one recruit in Clowney and the return of several veterans including sophomore Marcus Lattimore has valued USC's stock a bit higher as teams begin preparing for the start of the season.
Oklahoma grabbed the top spot with 42 first place votes. Alabama is ranked second and received 13 first place votes. Oregon, LSU and FSU round out the top five. Auburn, last season's undefeated national champion, is #19.
The USA Today Board of Coaches is made up of 59 head coaches at Bowl Subdivision schools. All are members of the American Football Coaches Association. Steve Spurrier is one of the members of the board.