At times, South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp will tip his thoughts a little bit.
He was asked who might take over the left tackle position, as Dennis Daley is moving on to pursue NFL chances. Muschamp didn’t start out by talking about his freshman All-American tackle, but a starter at another spot.
“Since Sadarius Hutcherson can bump outside and play — he has before and certainly has the ability,” Muschamp said. “Dylan Wonnum is a guy that can play either the right or the left tackle position. Those are guys we’ve looked at.”
Hutcherson was a starting guard last season and a backup who got a few starts the year before. He’s not the biggest tackle option at 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, but he started his career there, and coaches have long praised his upside and ceiling.
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The team also could move Wonnum, who as a freshman took the right tackle spot from Blake Camper during the season. Muschamp’s staff has twice moved former right tackles to left with Mason Zandi and Malik Young, and neither has the talent of Wonnum.
Daley in his two seasons did a credible job as a blindside pass protector for quarterback Jake Bentley. The Gamecocks were 117th in how often its quarterbacks were sacked against FBS opponents the year before he arrived. That jumped to 80th and then 23rd.
If Hutcherson ends up staying inside, Muschamp mentioned a few younger players who could end up in the mix on the outside.
“Max Iyama is a guy that can bump out,” Muschamp said. “Jordan Carty is a guy that we’ve looked at. We’ve got some options there as far as those things are concerned.”
Iyama was at tackle last August, but the 6-foot-5, 310 pounder didn’t get in any games. Carty was a developmental player when he arrived, and at 6-foot-7, played some guard and didn’t see the field.
The Gamecocks will be replacing a trio of tackles in Daley, Camper and Young, plus longtime starting guard Zack Bailey.
If Hucherson moves outside, it creates another opening, but the Gamecocks appear to be in somewhat good shape inside.
Center Donell Staley said he expects to move back to guard to make room for redshirt freshman Hank Manos. Freshman guard Jovaughn Gwyn seemed to be doing well before a knee injury ended his season after again, and third-year lineman Jordan Rhodes got work as the team’s sixth offensive lineman in run-heavy packages.
The Gamecocks open spring practice on Feb. 27. The spring game is April 6.