Wide receiver Shaq Roland and running back Mike Davis are the South Carolina freshmen with the most acclaim. Here are five more freshmen to watch (not named Roland or Davis) as the Gamecocks begin preseason practice on Friday.
JERELL ADAMS, Tight end
Adams, who played all over the field for Scott’s Branch High in South Carolina, was a gem in USC’s class of 2011. He turned heads after converting from quarterback to tight end and catching three touchdowns in the 2010 Shrine Bowl. Things didn’t work out academically, so Adams headed to Fork Union for a few months. Now he’s back. He’ll compete for playing time with senior Justice Cunningham and underclassmen Rory Anderson, Drew Owens and Kelvin Rainey.
JORDAN DIGGS, Spur
The U.S. Army All-American is the son of former USC star Shed Diggs. With Sharrod Golightly out three games from a suspension, Diggs could be the backup at the position right away behind DeVonte Holloman. Diggs was rated a four-star prospect by Rivals.com, ESPN and 247Sports. Rivals ranked him the 11th-best safety in the country and 39th-best player in Florida. He had 63 tackles as a senior at Island Coast High in Florida.
CHAZ ELDER, Cornerback
The Under Armour All-American had 83 tackles and two interceptions as a senior. He has a chance to earn a backup spot at cornerback, where the Gamecocks are thin behind starters Vic Hampton and Akeem Auguste. He picked the Gamecocks over Georgia and Vanderbilt, and was considered the nation’s seventh-best safety and a four-star prospect by ESPN. Rivals.com ranked Elder the nation’s 15th-best safety and a four-star prospect.
BRENDAN NOSOVITCH, quarterback
All eyes are always on the quarterback, and that will be no different with Nosovitch. He won the Maxwell Football Club’s Pennsylvania Player of the Year award and was named to the Parade All-America team. Nosovitch threw for 3,809 yards and 39 touchdowns and rushed for another 852 yards last season on the way to becoming Pennsylvania’s all-time leader in total yardage (12,877). He is second in state history in passing yards (9,249), quite a feat for a state that produced Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly and Joe Namath. His time with the Gamecocks may come down the road, but he’ll have his first shot to impress the coaches this summer.
KWINTON SMITH, Wide receiver
Smith, by most recruiting rankings, was a four-star prospect who picked USC over offers from Florida, LSU and Alabama. He had a down year statistically as a senior (564 yards, 10 touchdowns), largely because he rarely played into the second half in Dillon’s run-first offense. The Texas Rangers thought enough of his athletic ability to select him in the 14th round of the MLB Draft. And Smith’s name always comes up as someone who’s made a strong impression in summer workouts.