Buddy Pough entered the Staley Hall conference room with a smile on his face.
The longtime head coach of the Bulldogs had a wish list that needed to be filled and he could check off just about every one of them after South Carolina State picked up 22 signees on National Signing Day.
Pough and his staff signed seven defensive players, 13 offensive players and two kickers to fill out the needs of his roster.
“We think we met most of our needs,” Pough said. “The most important thing was to get those particular areas that we needed to have. Guys knew we needed a quarterback. Everybody knew we needed an offensive lineman or two. I think we got some pretty good ones.”
Of Pough’s 22 signees, only two of them are not from South Carolina. In fact, nine of his newest players were picked from high schools in the Midlands. Although the Bulldogs had the chance to recruit outside of South Carolina, Pough is content with the players joining his roster who aren’t too far away from Orangeburg.
“We think that’s big,” Pough said. “The big part of it is the fact that it’s so much more reasonable for us to bring in-state kids in. We did have the option of getting more out-of-state kids this year. We just didn’t necessarily find the need to do so.”
At this point, it’s Pough’s hope that his newest players won’t have to come in and help right away. However, he believes his signees have a lot of talent and can definitely help the program.
“We think that we'll have most of these guys be 'down the road' guys," Pough said. "Let's hope that we don't have to have them come in and play now. We think that most of them will be guys that will either redshirt or, at least, have to play in backup roles for us early."
It’s been three years since the Bulldogs clinched at least a share of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title. With his team looking to bounce from a 3-7 year, Pough said there is a sense of urgency for the team to get back to their winning ways as they take aim at their 17th MEAC title.
“I think that might be the most important part of this coming year as far as what the whole process is about, getting back to that point,” Pough said, “We’ve played, over the years now, pretty good on defense and, at times, we’ve had some pretty good special teams play. We hadn’t necessarily kicked the field goals to win games because a couple of those might’ve yielded another couple of championships.
“We’ve actually gotten to the point now where we’ve gotten two years away from having had a winning season and we’re at the point now where we’ve got to figure out how to get a lot better, a lot faster. The sense of urgency of the matter is pressing in a way that it might be almost panic time for us to make something happen really quickly here now.”
The Bulldogs’ Garnet & Blue Game will take place on April 14.
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