USC Gamecocks Football

USC staff playing it safe with top WRs Samuel, Edwards

Will Muschamp details importance of scrimmage work

South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp speaks Friday at Williams-Brice Stadium.
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South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp speaks Friday at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards will be full participants in South Carolina’s Saturday scrimmage, but the Gamecocks coaches will be watching them closely as both are just returning from minor hamstring injuries.

“I think you have to be very, very careful with hamstrings,” wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon said. “Deebo last year was out almost all year with a hamstring. If you’re not managing it the right way and you put them out there too fast, that’s when you get the big boy and you’re out two to three months.”

Samuel is expected to be South Carolina’s top receiver this fall, and Edwards, a four-star prospect from Conway, is expected to be near the top of the rotation.

Position Switch. Freshman Kiel Pollard, who signed as a wide receiver, is working exclusively as a tight end now. The 6-foot, 230-pound Georgia native was a three-star prospect.

“He has a unique skill set where he can get moved around some. I think he is at a position where we can utilize that skill set the best,” McClendon said. “Did it surprise me that he would be moved into that position? No.”

South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp speaks Friday at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Young bunch. McClendon is not ready to say which of South Carolina’s freshman wide receivers will redshirt this season, but he’s close to being able to say that Chavis Dawkins will not. Dawkins, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound Byrnes graduate, and 6-foot, 195-pound redshirt freshman Javon Charleston were working with the first team during portions of Thursday’s practice session.

“If everything keeps progressing, I think those two have a good chance (to be in the rotation),” McClendon said.

McClendon wants to have a seven- or eight-player rotation this season.

“You don’t want too many, but you want to be able to keep people fresh and keep pressure on the defense by going fast,” he said. “The plan is to get all (the freshmen) ready to play. Every one of them that we brought in, I’m getting ready to play.”

Kickoff competition. Columbia native Joseph Charlton, a redshirt freshman from A.C. Flora, is competing against starting place-kicker Elliott Fry, freshman Michael Almond and freshman Alexander Woznik to be South Carolina’s kickoff specialist, special teams coordinator Coleman Hutzler said.

Running back rotation. Junior running back David Williams, who fell from the top of the depth chart early in fall camp, “is doing fine,” head coach Will Muschamp said. Williams had been working with the third team during portions of practice open to the media early this week but was with the second-team during part’s of Thursday’s practice.

“I wouldn’t read too much into that,” Muschamp said. “We haven’t released a depth chart of the simple reason that right now it really doesn’t matter. It’s just about turns and reps. That’s what we’re worried about right now.”

Back to return. Rashad Fenton, A.J. Turner, Jamari Smith, Chris Lammons, Deebo Samuel, Randrecous Davis and Korey Banks all remain in the mix for kick return jobs, Muschamp said. The Gamecocks will work on live returns during Saturday’s scrimmage. Fenton and Turner were listed as the top kickoff returners entering fall camp, with Lammons listed as the top punt returner.

“I’m a little worried about ball security in some situations,” Muschamp said.

Extra Points. Senior safety Chris Moody has worked at linebacker for the last three practices, although Hutzler doesn’t expect it to be a permanent position change. “He’s been very unselfish,” Hutzler said.

… Smith is currently the No. 1 slot receiver, McClendon said.

… Sophomore Lorenzo Nunez, who is transitioning from quarterback to wide receiver, is “doing better,” McClendon said.

… Jonathan Walton, T.J. Holloman and Bryson Allen-Williams are in little danger of losing out on the top three jobs, but freshman linebacker T.J. Brunson “has really done some good things,” Hutzler said.

South Carolina linebackers/special teams coach Coleman Hutzler speaks Friday at Williams-Brice Stadium.