Each year in fall camp, some new player is going to catch a team’s attention.
It probably doesn’t hurt for South Carolina football fans that one of those players this year happens to be one of the fastest skill guys in the 2017 class.
In the early going this August, several players and defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson singled out freshman wide receiver Shi Smith as a player who is standing out. The Gamecocks have a trio of established pass catchers in receivers Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards and tight end Hayden Hurst, but not much is known behind them.
And the Union County product is making his case.
“Shi Smith is a really, really good player,” Robinson said. “I thought that Shi Smith is doing a really good job, and I’m excited to see where he can go.”
Smith came to USC as a four-star prospect who was, by some ratings, the top player in the state. He’s not the biggest at 5-foot-10, 179 pounds, but he’s fast, quick and showed some toughness in high school.
Gamecocks starting cornerback Rashad Fenton called Smith a “shifty” guy and praised his agility.
Smith caught 54 passes for 1,337 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior playing for former South Carolina quarterback Steve Taneyhill. A coaching change brought a new system and Smith followed with 67 passes for 907 yards and 10 touchdowns in his senior season.
Early in camp he was playing the inside receiver position that features a lot of competition. Samuel spends some time there, and second-year receiver Randrecous Davis is a more veteran option. USC also frequently plays tight ends such as K.C. Crosby and Kiel Pollard there.
But Smith could offer a kind of explosiveness few other Gamecocks possess, and he’s already caught some level of attention.
“I don’t really get to go against him a lot since he’s working the slot,” Fenton said. “But I have noticed a lot of talent with him.”