USC Gamecocks Football

South Carolina’s quarterback battle shrinking as camp approaches

Will Muschamp: South Carolina's expectations are to win now

South Carolina head coach at the 2016 SEC Media Days says there is not a three- or four-year plan to turn things around at South Carolina. The Gamecocks want to win now.
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South Carolina head coach at the 2016 SEC Media Days says there is not a three- or four-year plan to turn things around at South Carolina. The Gamecocks want to win now.

Lorenzo Nunez is headed to the wide receiving corps, and Michael Scarnecchia is headed for a rehab season, leaving South Carolina’s quarterback race officially down to three players.

Two of those players – senior Perry Orth and freshman Brandon McIlwain – remain out in front due to their performances this spring, head coach Will Muschamp said Thursday at SEC Media Days. The wildcard in the competition is Jake Bentley, the four-star prospect and son of running backs coach Bobby Bentley who graduated high school early and enrolled at South Carolina this summer.

“Every freshman coming in is going to have every opportunity to contribute to our football team, and Jake is one of those freshmen,” Muschamp said. “We will find out the realistic expectations for him after about two weeks of camp.”

Nunez, who missed most of spring practice due to a knee injury, started two games at quarterback last season, completing 32-of-52 passes for three touchdowns and three interceptions.

“He is still going to have his hand in the quarterback position,” Muschamp said. “He’s a good athlete and we need help at the receiver position. He and I have talked about it throughout the summer. He wants to help our football team.”

Nunez also is the Gamecocks’ leading returning rusher with 375 yards on 59 carries.

“I haven’t seen Lorenzo at receiver yet, but you look at Lorenzo and he’s a very athletic guy,” wide receiver Deebo Samuel said. “He can run. He can do it.”

Scarnecchia is a sophomore who fell out of the race for the starting quarterback spot during spring practice. He suffered a shoulder injury which required surgery during the offseason, Muschamp said, and he won’t play in 2016.

The Gamecocks will begin fall practice Aug. 2. Orth started eight games last year, throwing for 1,929 yards, 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions last year. McIlwain is a four-star, dual-threat prospect who enrolled early in order to participate in spring practice.

“Whether we play one quarterback or we play two and who it’s going to be, I don’t know right now,” Muschamp said. “I’m not going to put a timetable on that. You do at some point have to narrow it down and get the snaps that the guys need because there is going to be a possibility one of those guys is going to be a young guy.”

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