Heading into his 18th season at the helm of the South Carolina State football program, Head Coach Buddy Pough knew his young team needed just a few holes filled at specific positions.
So he and his coaching staff searched and added a dynamic dozen.
On Wednesday's National Signing Day, the Bulldogs signed 12 players, including four offensive linemen, two quarterbacks, two defensive linemen, a tight end, defensive back, linebacker and wide receiver.
"It's another exciting day for Bulldog football, as we announce our 2019 signing class," Pough said Wednesday at his signing day press conference. "It was mostly a fill-in-the-needs kind of year, as we made sure we filled in spots where we thought we needed some help.
"We took some offensive linemen and got a few defensive guys, while also adding in some quarterbacks and skill guys. More than anything else, at this point, we think the majority of this football team is already in place for the coming year. We didn't have a lot of space. But these guys we added are a high-level group of guys we hope will be able to help us some this season."
Three of the signees -- Jordan Springs (6-foot-2, 237-pound tight end), Cam Johnson (6-foot-3, 265-pound offensive lineman) and Lawson Danley (6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker/defensive lineman) -- are from Dutch Fork High School in Irmo, a program that most recently has captured three SCHSL Class 5A state championships. Danley is also the son of S.C. State Director of Athletics Stacy Danley, who was an All-SEC running back at Auburn.
"Springs is a big, physical tight end, who we think could be something special," Pough said. "Cam Johnson is a really good offensive lineman.
"And then Lawson Danley is a defensive specialist guy, a linebacker we think could be big enough to play defensive end for us at some point. Those guys, from that program, we think are top-level guys."
Two of the signees are accomplished quarterbacks who should fit well in the offensive system second-year offensive coordinator Bennett Swygert built around sophomore starter Tyrece Nick this past season. Avery McCall (6-foot, 200 pounds) formerly ranked the No. 21 dual-threat quarterback in the nation, led Dillon High School to four consecutive state championships as a starting signal caller. He is the only player in Palmetto State history to do so. Once he completes this semester at Highland Community College in Kansas, where he was an all-conference selection, he will join the Bulldogs. Also signing on Wednesday was Woodland Wolverines standout quarterback Taurean Singletary (6-foot-2, 165 pounds), a big-play threat from Dorchester County.
"McCall is a special guy, an older guy," Pough said. "We were really looking to put a quarterback in the group who could give us some help immediately.
"We like Tyrece Nick and what he brings to the table. Our offense is actually designed around his skill set. But, at the same time, when you get a chance to get a kid like Avery in here, you jump at it."
One of the signees is from the heart of The T&D Region. Former Lake Marion and Calhoun County wide receiver Camryn Johnson (6-foot-4, 190 pounds) will have three seasons left to play for the Bulldogs, as he has transferred from Georgia State University's program.
Two of Wednesday's signees are from out of state. Both are from North Carolina, but they play on opposite sides of the ball. Dallas Foard (6-foot-4, 270 pounds) is an offensive tackle from Central Cabarrus High School, while N.C. State transfer Vernon Grier (5-foot-11, 180 pounds) is a defensive back who prepped at perennial powerhouse Mallard Creek High School.
"We signed 22 kids in last year's class," Pough said. "I looked back at it and 17 of those 22 were on our team, making some kind of contribution to our season last year.
"That's kind of unusual. But, that's why our class is so small this year. We had such a large class last year. So, this class just helps particular needs. Our spring practice should be very similar to what our fall practice will be. We've got 80 to 85 kids working out early in the mornings now, doing off-season workouts and all. So, we think that we've got a chance to be further along this spring."
S.C. State went 5-6 in 2018, including a 4-3 record in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play. Pough -- with a 125-69 record -- needs just four victories to eclipse the program-record 128 wins of Head Coach Emeritus Willie Jeffries.