Countdown note: GoGamecocks’ Josh Kendall, David Cloninger and Dwayne McLemore each ranked the 10 players most important to South Carolina’s offense in 2014. We took their predictions, compiled a composite list and are revealing it one player a day through July 14. (This is not a ranking of the team’s best players -- it’s our rank of the players who are most vital to the team’s success.)
Just like that, the wide receiver from New Jersey who burst onto the scene in 2011 with his wheels is a senior.
Damiere Byrd made 10 starts last season and is atop the depth chart again for 2014 at one of the receiver spots. Byrd had a career-best 33 for 575 yards and four touchdowns as a junior.
He missed the Capital One Bowl with a knee injury and did not take part in any contact during spring practice. The Gamecocks don’t expect him to lose any of his speed due to the injury, receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. said.
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“He’s still the fastest guy on the team,” Spurrier Jr. said. “He’s got a chance to have a big year, too.”
Best-case scenario: Byrd recovers fully from his knee injury and proves to be a reliable possession option and a deep threat alongside Shaq Roland. Byrd could easily top last year’s numbers as the Gamecocks look to replace Bruce Ellington’s production.
Stats: Has 48 career receptions for 957 yards with seven touchdowns.