With the new NCAA redshirt rule, South Carolina’s football team got the majority of its last class on the field for at least a few games even if they took a redshirt.
But a few players remain a mystery, like Darius Rush, who did his work well behind the scenes.
In that role, he’s shown a little something.
“He’s good,” starting slot Shi Smith said. “I mean, when he gets over the injury, he’s a pretty good guy. He’s a great person, so just whenever he gets over that injury, he’ll be good.”
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A wrist injury limited the 6-foot-2, 185-pound pass catcher during the season, and he’ll be in a receiver group with some experience at the top, but the need to develop depth.
Deebo Samuel is gone. Smith and Bryan Edwards are back as starters, and if OrTre Smith is healthy, he’ll likely hold the third spot after starting 10 games as a freshman and missing last fall after knee surgery.
Beyond them, Josh Vann had 18 catches last year. Chavis Dawkins and Randrecous Davis combined for nine.
USC will add a couple more blue-chip players in the summer, but Rush will have a chance to make his case.
“Darius Rush is a funny kid, personality-wise,” Edwards said. “Talent, he’s got all the talent and all the ability in the world. He’s going to keep growing, keep getting stronger and he picks up on things very easily. He’s a fast learner, and he’s very smooth in everything he does.”
The part about picking up on things is notable because Rush was asked to do a lot at a small high school. He played receiver, option quarterback, wildcat quarterback and safety. He played in two dramatically different offenses going from a power-option scheme to a spread.
He had 47 catches for 863 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior and rushed for 125 yards as a senior, leading C.E. Murray High to one of the better seasons in school history.
After watching the former early enrollee for a year in practice, Shi Smith projects Rush to be a solid deep threat and possession receiver.
“You’ve just got to smooth out the edges and I think he’ll be a great player,” Edwards said.
He’ll be in a battle to be sure. Beyond the top four, Chad Terrell is coming back from a knee injury. Dawkins and Davis are running out of chances to make an impact. Three more players are set to come in during the summer.
But Rush, who spent his season even more behind the scenes than most, will get his chance.
“Every year in camp, it’s a competition from top to bottom,” Edwards said.