When South Carolina released its post-spring depth chart, the hole at slot receiver was glaring – only one name was listed.
Wide receivers coach/co-offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon said that doesn’t mean a lot inside the football offices.
“A lot of those guys can play that one position,” McClendon said.
The only player listed in the slot is Jamari Smith, a former running back and cornerback. The fourth-year junior has bounced from defense to offense and back again, and as he’s focused his efforts on the inside spot.
“Especially with the numbers that we needed, we needed a guy to come in and play well,” McClendon said. “It was fairest to him to see where his abilities would be best used, and then put him at that position and kind of let him learn that one spot right now. Obviously, he still has a lot to learn offensively when it comes to being a receiver. He has a lot to learn even at that one position. But I do think that he’s done extremely well in picking up everything that we’ve done.”
Smith showed well in the spring game, catching six passes for 54 yards and a touchdown while mostly working against the second-string defense. His best regular-season highlight was torching Coastal Carolina as a freshman tailback for 103 yards on 10 carries.
That was after starting the year as a cornerback and before becoming a corner again (with some wide receiver in 2015).
It remains unclear exactly who will fill out the slot position. Deebo Samuel dabbled there in the spring. Three of the incoming freshmen are on the smaller side and possibly suited for the role.
For now Smith, a dynamic 5-foot-10, 204-pounder, is the only dedicated inside receiver, and that falls in line with the approach in place.
“Kind of bringing him along,” McClendon said. “It would have been unfair to have to learn four different positions and then ask him to go out there and do it well, especially with the numbers that we needed. We needed a guy to come in and play well.”
Post-spring depth chart
Deebo Samuel (6-0, 205), Soph.
Terry Googer (6-4, 220), Soph.
Jamari Smith (5-10, 204), Jr.
Bryan Edwards (6-3, 205), Fr.
Javon Charleston (6-1, 178), Fr.