South Carolina wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon had a 2016 in which his group faced plenty of stumbling blocks but also showed significant promise.
Injuries and extreme youth hit for most of the first half of the season, but coming down the stretch, freshman Bryan Edwards and sophomore Deebo Samuel emerged as high-grade targets.
But few others emerged, and the staff pulled in two of the top players in the state to reinforce the group. McClendon broke down his three new players for GamecocksOnline.com.
“OrTre Smith is one of those unique players that has the size and speed combination. I think for his size, he moves and is very, very quick and very nimble. Able to drop and stop his hips and get in and out of breaks extremely, extremely fast. One of the biggest things that impresses me the most about OrTre is not just working with him right now, but when I went and watched him play in high school, how competitive he is. He likes contact. He's extremely competitive, and he likes to win. I think he catches the ball very, very naturally. Can go up and then make those plays, what I call ‘above the rim.’ That means going up and high-pointing the ball very well. Tracks the ball, tracks the deep ball well. Also, for a man his size, he is very good after the catch as well.”
“Chad Terrell is unique in the sense of, I've not seen a guy that big able to explode as well as he has. I think he can make any kind of dunk playing basketball that you can make. He's very unique, has very good ball skills, tracks the ball very well. Extremely coachable. He, along with all those guys have the ability to make plays once they catch the ball and then after the catch.”
“Extremely explosive. Got a chance to get Shi in camp and he was one of the best players that I've ever had in camp at the time. He's extremely talented. He tracks the ball very, very well. Very natural receiver as fast as how catches the ball and how he tracks the football. He is extremely quick, explosive. Acceleration is really, really good. He gets to full speed in a hurry. And he has the ability to make plays once he catches the football. I think he'll be able to help us a bunch in the return game and create big explosive plays for us that are not necessarily designed to be that way. I think he can take a short pass and take it a long way.”
South Carolina played most of 2016 with two tight ends on the field, despite going into the season saying the plan was to start three receivers. Beyond Samuel and Edwards, the group includes three second-year players who saw snaps here and there and junior Terry Googer, who could not assert himself as a reliable option despite making three starts.