Javon Kinlaw vs. Zack Bailey: Who’s winning the daily battles?
It is no surprise to see Deebo Samuel’s name in several spots on the preseason All-SEC team released Friday. South Carolina’s senior wide receiver from Chapman was named the “starter” at wide receiver, return specialist and all-purpose player.
What is surprising is that only one other Gamecock offensive or defensive player made the first-, second- or third-team. That was senior offensive lineman Zack Bailey.
South Carolina still is rebuilding its roster, and the Gamecocks don’t have the top-level talent of an Alabama or a Georgia at the moment, but there are still a few glaring omissions on Friday’s list considering that three teams were announced on each side of the ball.
Let’s take a look at the five players not named this week who I think will show up on postseason lists:
Javon Kinlaw, defensive tackle
This will sound like reckless hyperbole. It is not. Javon Kinlaw could be a first-round NFL Draft pick next year. That’s much different than saying he will be. If a long list of things go right, he could be. The 6-foot-6, 300-pound junior only had 20 tackles (and no sacks) last year, which is why he was overlooked. He’ll have a much bigger year this season.
T.J. Brunson, linebacker
The junior middle linebacker had 88 tackles last year, and that was with Skai Moore on the team. A 100-tackle season is almost a given this year for the player South Carolina’s defensive coaches have tabbed as the leader of their defense.
Sadarius Hutcherson, guard
Bailey has been a very good offensive lineman for the Gamecocks for two years now, but the guard head coach Will Muschamp mentioned the most at SEC Media Days was Hutcherson, a 6-foot-4, 310-pound sophomore. Hutcherson was South Carolina’s highest-performing lineman last spring and is expected to have a big fall.
Donell Stanley, center
The move of the 6-foot-3, 315-pound junior to center may be the most overlooked aspect of South Carolina’s offseason. It’s been a while since the interior of a Gamecocks offensive line has moved the middle of the line consistently enough for South Carolina to establish its inside zone running game. Stanley is helping with that.
Bryan Edwards, receiver
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior is the best No. 2 wide receiver in the SEC and, along with Samuel, gives South Carolina the best duo of pass-catchers in the conference. Between the first-, second- and third-team, there were six wide receiver spots announced Friday. Edwards should have had one of them.