Five new Gamecocks will take the field when South Carolina’s football team begins spring practice later this week. The set of early enrollees includes a pair of four-stars and a junior college transfer.
A look at what to expect from the newcomers.
One of the jewels of the 2017 recruiting class, Smith has already said he’ll be full-go after an ankle injury cut his senior season at Wando High School short. He could well be in the mold of teammate Bryan Edwards, who slotted into a larger role as soon as spring ball started. At 6-foot-4 with good leaping ability and a high ceiling, Smith could well find himself in a starting spot, if the staff moves Deebo Samuel inside, or at worst, could exit spring as the top reserve outside receiver behind Samuel and Edwards.
The four-star Madison, Ga., product already got his first taste of college practices after enrolling before the bowl game and getting to work with the team before it left for Birmingham. He has the potential to make an early impact, at least based on his recruiting ranking, and could possibly fill several spots. Teammates have said he can play end or tackle, and at 6-foot-3, 277 pounds he could be between the team’s bigger end position and playing inside. USC returns two starting tackles and a pair of seasoned edge players, but there’s likely plenty of snaps in the rotation up for grabs.
The North Carolina product missed some of his senior season and the Shrine Bowl with a hip injury, so it’s unclear what he’s been able to do through offseason workouts. He joins a safety spot where USC returns only two scholarship players from 2016. There will be an influx of defensive backs in the summer, but for the moment, Dickerson should only have to potentially battle fellow newcomer Kaleb Chalmers, walk-ons and maybe a corner that’s cross-training for second-team reps. Defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson called Dickerson electrifying, smart and exactly what the team needs at safety.
He spent one year redshirting at Clemson and played one season in junior college, and now he’ll be in position to make a quick impact in Columbia. Chalmers could play safety or corner, and the team has zero scholarship reserve DBs who have played a snap. At 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, he’d be on the smaller side at safety, much like D.J. Smith, but he has good ball skills and could get a jump on the rest of the defensive back group before the summer.
The Laurens product projects as sa likely redshirt, primarily because that’s the most common path for offensive linemen and because he’s undergone large physical changes in his final year of high school. He’ll get his first taste of facing college talent and get to work with coach Eric Wolford, but he’ll likely end up waiting his turn in 2017.