Josh Kendall

Five things Gamecocks football fans should be thankful for this year

With the regular season on the verge of ending, let’s take a look at five things South Carolina fans should be thankful for as the year ends.

1. The Gamecocks are going bowling

One year after staying home in December, South Carolina will play in a bowl game this year. There was a time when a bowl game wasn’t a given in Columbia, but Steve Spurrier changed that with seven straight postseason trips.

2. The backbone of the offense is composed entirely of underclassmen

Starting quarterback Jake Bentley is a freshman. Starting running back Rico Dowdle is a freshman. Leading wide receiver and kickoff return specialist Deebo Samuel is a sophomore.

3. Momentum has picked up on the recruiting trail

The Gamecocks have verbal commitments from defensive back Jamyest Williams, the nation’s No. 55 prospect (according to’s composite rankings), and wide recevier OrTre Smith, the No. 128 prospect, for the recruiting class of 2017. They also are drawing strong interest from Xavier Thomas of Florence, a five-star defensive end who is the No. 2 prospect in the 2018 recruiting class.

4. A $50 million football operations building is on the way

Whatever you think of college football’s obscene arms race (and I kind of think it’s obscene), the Gamecocks are all in. Part of the price of admission in the SEC is the nearly constant facility upgrades that come with it. One of South Carolina’s biggest ever, the football ops building, just received its final approval.

5. The SEC East wide open for near future

Nobody has fully taken advantage of the power void at the top of the SEC East. The SEC’s other division has been trying to find its way for a while now. Long enough, certainly that traditional powers like Florida, Georgia and Tennessee have had a chance to put together dominant programs. None has, which leaves more breathing room for the Gamecocks into the future.