Josh Kendall

Similarities between USC in 2017 and ‘best year’ Roper has had in the air

Offensive coaches all want lots of wide receivers; six to seven ready to go every Saturday is the goal, but it’s not exactly mandatory.

“The best year I’ve ever had throwing the football, we had three guys,” South Carolina offensive coordinator Kurt Roper said.

That was at Duke in 2012, where Conner Vernon, Jamison Crowder and Desmond Scott combined to catch 64 percent of the Blue Devils passes.

“They didn’t come off the field,” Roper said. “That’s not ideal, but it’s the best year I’ve ever had throwing the football.”

Now Roper’s Gamecocks could be headed toward a similar season with Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards at the top of a thin wide receiving rotation.

“We will travel anywhere from six to seven, depending on what’s going on,” Roper said. “Who plays, I don’t know that yet. The more the better, but it’s hard to take Deebo and Bryan off the field. We’d like to find that third we can add to the field.

“If you had five or six you felt really good about, you have a great number.”

Junior Terry Googer has shown enough preseason flashes that coaches believe he can build on his 12 career catches. True freshmen OrTre Smith and Shi Smith also have drawn good reviews from both teammates and coaches. Redshirt freshman Randrecous Davis has been lauded since he came on campus but has yet to make an impact because of injury and once again is sitting out with a groin injury.

The good news for the Gamecocks is every wide receiver who caught a pass a year ago is back with the team this year. The bad news is that two of those players – Javon Charleston and Korey Banks – are now defensive backs and the third-leading returning receiver is sophomore Chavis Dawkins, who had eight catches a year ago.

“We have to have more dependable guys,” coach Will Muschamp said.

Samuel and Edwards “are two great players,” Dawkins said. “We just have to help those guys out when they come out and just make plays,” Dawkins said. “We are making plays out there (in practice), and we are progressing in the right way. They tell us to practice how you play, and you have to practice good to get the opportunities in the games.”

USC wide receivers in 2016




Deebo Samuel



Bryan Edwards



Chavis Dawkins



Terry Googer



Randrecous Davis



Javon Charleston



Korey Banks



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