So much of what interests college football fans in August is about the new. New plans. New players. Etc. All the new and shiny things get people excited about this year, just maybe, will be better than the last. However, the new stuff only helps if the old stuff keep coming along at the right pace.
The good news for South Carolina’s football team is that, while its fans dream of what freshman wide receiver Shi Smith could become or the difference it could make if defensive end Shameik Blackshear puts its all together, the Gamecocks’ known commodities have all been doing exactly what the coaches hoped they would this preseason.
Here are five stars of the Gamecocks camp so far:
▪ Quarterback Jake Bentley. Head coach Will Muschamp can’t get through an interview without praising his sophomore starter, which is good considering no player is nearly so vital as the quarterback this season. Bentley’s progress and command of the offense has a calming effect on the entire team, Muschamp said.
▪ Wide receiver Deebo Samuel. The junior has been busy in camp learning plays from lots of positions, and the Gamecocks plan to utilize him in as many ways as possible. If Samuel can stay healthy, he’ll be a star this year.
▪ Tight end Hayden Hurst. The junior made a spectacular catch in Saturday’s scrimmage and continues to wow teammates with his athleticism. This is no ordinary former walk-on, which should be clear to everyone this fall.
▪ Defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth. The senior is finally fully healthy and has been the standout on a defensive line that sorely needs one.
▪ Linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams. The senior has been spending a lot of practice time with at the Buck position, which means that all the talk to utilizing his pass rush abilities may finally come to fruition this year.