Josh Kendall

South Carolina football dream team: Our picks for best Gamecocks on gridiron

From USC to Super Bowl: Alshon Jeffery through the years

Former USC football player, Alshon Jeffery, is headed for the Super Bowl as the wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles.
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Former USC football player, Alshon Jeffery, is headed for the Super Bowl as the wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles.

On Saturday night during halftime of South Carolina’s men’s basketball game, Gamecocks football coach Will Muschamp introduced Marcus Lattimore as the “greatest Gamecock of all-time.”

We’ll leave that debate for another time. Today, we’re going to start another debate – the Gamecocks Dream Team. We have picked the best player in USC’s 124-year football history at 11 spots on offense, 11 spots on defense, a punter and a place-kicker. Your list may be different. If so, let us know.

Quarterback

Connor Shaw (2010-2013) – There are lots of ways to measure quarterbacks, making this a very tough call. In the end, Shaw’s school-record 27 wins puts him on top. The 6,074 passing yards (fourth in school history) and 1,683 rushing yards (22nd in school history) and 74 touchdowns he was responsible for (school record) don’t hurt either.

Running Back

George Rogers (1977-1980) – The school’s leading rusher and the No. 1 overall selection in the 1981 NFL draft, Rogers rushed for 5,204 yards in his career (2,149 more than second place Brandon Bennett) and had 27 games with more than 100 yards rushing.

Running Back

Marcus Lattimore (2010-2012) – He’s only sixth on the school’s all-time rushing list, and he averaged fewer yards per carry than fifth-place Thomas Dendy, but Lattimore’s impact on the program went beyond the field, as evidenced by his recent hiring as the football team’s director of player development.

Wide Receiver

Alshon Jeffery (2009-2011) – The Gamecocks all-time leader in receiving yards with 3,042 is also second all-time in catches with 183. His 16.6-yards per catch average is the best among the top 14 players on the school’s career receptions list.

Wide Receiver

Sterling Sharpe (1983, 1985-1987) – The third-leading receiver in school history with 2,497 yards, Sharpe was the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards when he left school, by which time he already had his USC jersey retired. He went on to be a first-round NFL draft pick.

Tight end

Willie Scott (1977-1980) – Hayden Hurst almost knocked Scott off this post last season, but the nod goes to Scott, who caught 70 passes for 896 yards all the while blocking in George Rogers’ offense. Like Rogers, he was a first-round pick in the NFL draft.

Offensive line

Dave DeCamilla (1968-1970) – A two-time All-ACC selection, DeCamilla blocked for South Carolina’s only conference championship team, the 1969 ACC champs.

Offensive line

A.J. Cann (2011-2014) -- The most recent South Carolina offensive lineman to earn first-team All-America status (in 2014), Cann was selected in the third round of the NFL draft in 2015 and has been a starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars ever since.

Offensive line

Lou Sossamon (1940-1942) – A two-time All-Southern Conference selection, Sossamon was a second-team All-America selection in 1942. He was a sixth-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1943.

Offensive line

T.J. Johnson (2009-2012) – The Aynor native started every game of his collegiate career (53 games), and he anchored the line for a team that won an SEC East championship and won 38 games. He’s still with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Offensive line

Del Wilkes (1980-1981, 1983-1984) – The man who would go on to wrestling stardom as The Patriot, Wilkes was a first-team All-American at guard during the Black Magic 1984 season.

Place-kicker

Elliott Fry (2013-2016) – He narrowly gets the edge over Collin Mackie, who holds the USC career record for field goals made (72). Fry is second in field goals made (66) and second in career percentage (75 percent), and he always seemed to hit the big kick.

Former South Carolina defensive back Stephon Gilmore is going to play in the Super Bowl as a member of the New England Patriots.

Defensive Line

Jadeveon Clowney (2011-2013) – A two-time, first-team All-American, Clowney fulfilled all the promise he showed as the nation’s No. 1 high school recruit. He is third in school history in sacks (24) despite playing only three seasons. He also has the school record for forced fumbles (nine).

Defensive Line

Eric Norwood (2006-2009) – Norwood could be slotted as a linebacker, but he did his best work as a defensive end. He holds the school’s career record for tackles-for-loss with 54.5.

Defensive Line

Andrew Provence (1980-1982) – Provence is remembered as a sack master for good reason. He’s second in school history in that category, but he’s also second in school history in career tackles with 401 despite playing only three seasons.

Defensive Line

Melvin Ingram (2007, 2009-2011) – Ingram had only two great collegiate seasons, but they were spectacular. Ingram had nine sacks in 2010 and then added 8.5 and 13.5 tackles-for-loss in 2011 on the way to being a first-team All-American as a senior.

Linebacker

J.D. Fuller (1979, 1981-1983) – He never led South Carolina in tackles in a single season, but he had the all-time record with 405 stops when his career ended in 1983. He still does.

Linebacker

John Abraham (1996-1999) – Abraham led USC in sacks in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999. Those weren’t the glory years for the Gamecocks, but Abraham went on to a 15-year NFL career.

Linebacker

James Seawright (1981-1984) – The middle of the Fire Ant defense, Seawright is fourth in school history with 384 tackles. He had a school-record 29 tackles against N.C. State that season.

Defensive Back

Brad Edwards (1984-1987) – A third-team All-American in 1987, Edwards led the team in tackles (130) and interceptions (eight) that year. The next year, he was a second-round selection in the NFL draft.

Defensive Back

Rashad Faison (1999-2002) – The school’s all-time leader in unassisted tackles (a statistic that has been kept by USC since 1982), Faison is sixth in school history with 349 tackles overall.

Defensive Back

Sheldon Brown (1998-2001) – Playing alongside Faison for most of his career, Brown was a first-team All-American in 2000 and a third-team All-America selection the next season.

Defensive Back

Stephon Gilmore (2009-2011) – Despite discouraging opposing offenses from even looking his way, Gilmore led the Gamecocks in interceptions in 2010 (three) and 2011 (four), and he was one of the recruits who started Steve Spurrier’s talent influx.

Punter

Spencer Lanning (2007-2010) – He’s second in school history in punting average (42.6-yards per kick) and gets the nod here because he’s also USC’s career leader in field goal percentage (77.3 percent).

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