USC Gamecocks Football

Projecting South Carolina’s offensive depth chart as spring football begins

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The South Carolina offense won’t have wide receiver Deebo Samuel and running back Ty’Son Williams for the 2019 season, but the Gamecocks return plenty of talent on the offensive side of the ball. Here’s a look at USC’s projected depth chart heading into spring practice, which begins Feb. 27.

Quarterback

Starters: Jake Bentley

Top Backups: Dakereon Joyner, Ryan Hilinski

Already one of just four players to throw for more than 7,000 yards in USC history, Bentley has a good shot at becoming the school’s leading career passer in his senior season. The real drama during the spring will be who earns the No. 2 job. Joyner, who played in one game last year, and Hilinski, who signed in December as one of the top high school players in the nation, are the top contenders. Both are freshmen, so whoever ends up No. 3 on the depth chart this fall will have some thinking to do.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Bryan Edwards, Shi Smith, OrTre Smith

Top Backup: Josh Vann

With the return of OrTre Smith from a knee injury that limited him to two games last year, the top of the depth chart looks solid with Edwards and Shi Smith having already proven they are ready for the No. 1 and 2 spots in the rotation. The question is depth. Vann, who had 18 catches as a true freshman last year, looks like he can take over the No. 1 receiver role eventually and provide lots of help this year, but South Carolina is going to need six receivers ready to go in the fall.

One to Watch: Randrecous Davis

The Gamecocks have tried to get the junior on the field for two years without much success due to injuries. He was limited to two catches in six games and probably needs to break through now if he’s ever going to.

Running backs

Starter: Rico Dowdle

Top Backups: Mon Denson, Deshaun Fenwick

The path is clear for Dowdle to emerge as a true lead back during his senior season. The North Carolina native no long will have to share carries with Ty’Son Williams and maybe not with A.J. Turner. Fenwick is the wildcard here. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry in limited action last year and has some burst.

One to watch: Lavonte Valentine

The freshman missed all of last season due to an ACL tear he suffered in high school, but he’s healthy now, as evidenced by the 6.92 60-meters he ran with the USC track team this month. He could bring another dimension to the Gamecocks backfield.

South Carolina Gamecocks running backs coach Thomas Brown breaks down what more he wants to see from his players, how coaching at Miami, Wisconsin helped him.

Tight ends

Starter: Kiel Pollard

Top backup: Kyle Markway

When the Gamecocks are in a two-tight end set, the answer seems pretty simple. Pollard and Kyle Markway will likely be on the field. Who the No. 1 tight end is a more difficult questions, as both have different skill sets. Pollard closed 2018 strong, which gives him some momentum coming into spring.

One to watch: Evan Hinson

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound junior recently left the USC basketball team to focus exclusively on football. He brings the right size and athleticism to be a very good tight end in the SEC.

Tackles

Starters: Sadarius Hutcherson, Dylan Wonnum

Top backup: Jordan Carty

Wonnum, who started on the right side as a true freshman last year, will man one of the tackle spots for a while to come. Hutcherson, a junior who has played guard the last two seasons, looks like the best bet for the other tackle spot. Carty, a 6-foot-7, 315-pound sophomore, has prototypical tackle size and earned a few positive comments in a backup role in 2018.

One to Watch: Max Imaya

Another prototype tackle frame, the redshirt freshman Imaya probably needs more seasoning.

Guards

Starters: Donell Stanley, Jovaughn Gwyn

Top backup: Eric Douglas, Chandler Farrell

Stanley switched from guard to center for the 2018 season and handled the job admirably, but a move back to guard looks likely thanks to the emergence of Hank Manos. As a senior, Stanley has a shot at an All-SEC season. Gwyn, a redshirt freshman who suffered an injury early last season, showed promise early, getting garbage time work in the opener alongside eventual starter Dylan Wonnum.

One to watch: Jordan Rhodes

The third-year sophomore was the team’s sixth lineman in some run-heavy packages last season. He’s strong, but might face competition from incoming freshmen in the summer.

Centers

Starter: Hank Manos

Top Backup: Stanley

Manos, a former high school wrestler, started his first collegiate game in the Belk Bowl, taking over for Stanley when Zack Bailey’s injury forced Stanley to guard. The Gamecocks have been expecting Manos to take the position since they signed him in 2018, and he probably won’t give it up for a while.

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Josh Kendall has covered SEC football for almost 20 years. He has covered the Gamecocks since the 2010 season. Have a question? Shoot him an email or find him on Twitter, and he’ll be happy to respond.
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