The first day of South Carolina’s practice is in the books.
The Gamecocks looked fairly crisp Friday night for a first night out. I tried to focus most of my attention on the wide receivers. As expected, junior Ace Sanders looked the best.
During one-on-one drills, Sanders zipped past starting cornerbacks Akeem Auguste and Victor Hampton, drawing applause from the crowd for the play against Hampton. Sophomore Damiere Byrd, who was expected to make a big impact last season but caught one pass, dominated the team’s seven-on-seven drills, getting past the defense for three long gains.
Of the trio of incoming freshmen, Shaq Roland was the most impressive, but it’s tough to judge anything on one practice. Kwinton Smith, 6-4, looks the part and will get every chance to play this year due to his size. Jody Fuller also got plenty of work but didn’t do anything that jumped out.
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Tonight, my focus will be offensive tackles.
It’s a tough position to judge, particularly when there is no real contact, but it’s crucial for the Gamecocks, who are handing the starting left tackle job to redshirt freshman Brandon Shell. Shell has the right size (6-6, 331) and pedigree (nephew of NFL Hall of Famer Art Shell) for the position but still has to prove he can do it.
On the right side, sophomores Mike Matulis and Cody Gibson are battling for the starting job.