Josh Kendall

The 5 South Carolina players with most to gain this summer

South Carolina’s football players have just put a wrap on their spring semesters and are turning their attention to the summer.

That means more football practice. While May is devoted mostly to a short academic session or arranging internships or even heading home for some of the Gamecocks players, June will bring them back to the field. South Carolina begins its summer conditioning and player-run practice sessions the first week of June. As we look ahead, let’s take a look at which players have the most to gain from the summer program.

OrTre Smith – The sophomore wide receiver wasn’t fully healthy during last summer’s workout season, meaning he missed out on valuable repetitions with quarterback Jake Bentley. In the fall, Smith had 30 catches for 326 yards and three touchdowns. His receptions were the second most on the team by a wide receiver, and he’s a strong candidate to be this year’s No. 3 pass-catching option behind Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards.

Rico Dowdle – The junior running back needs reps, any kind of reps. He missed much of spring due to a hamstring injury, which seemed to irk head coach Will Muschamp to some degree. Dowdle has missed significant chunks of both his previous seasons due to injuries, and he averaged only 3.8 yards per carry last year, the least among the team’s top three backs. Anytime Dowdle can spend on the field, even if it’s in 7-on-7 drills, will start to win back some trust with his coaches.

Randrecous Davis – The sophomore wide receiver is in the same boat as Dowdle. He’s shown enough flashes when he’s on the field that the coaching staff thinks he can be a high level contributor, but he’s too often injured for know if they are right in that belief or not. Davis has the type of speed that South Carolina’s receiving corps could use, and he’s needed for positional depth if nothing else. Davis has 10 catches in two seasons (His three-catch freshman season doesn’t count against him due to a medical redshirt.)

Javon Charleston – Defensive backs are working during the summer, too, and none have more to prove than Charleston, a junior who arrived on campus as a walk-on wide receiver. He’s currently a starter at safety alongside Steven Montac, but Muschamp has made it pretty clear he wants more competition at that position. With Jamyest Williams playing at least some safety in the fall, USC adding grad transfers and freshman R.J. Roderick making progress, Charleston needs a consistent summer.

Israel Mukuamu – The early enrollee freshman cornerback could play early. The Gamecocks are going to need one of their young corners to do it, and Mukuamu would be their first choice because of his size – 6-foot-4, 196 pounds. This spring was his first taste of college football and a summer of matching up with Samuel and Edwards should help hammer home some of those lessons.

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