Josh Kendall

The six players auditioning to be South Carolina’s punt returner

Wide receivers Bryan Edwards, Shi Smith and Josh Vann and defensive backs Nick Harvey, Jamyest Williams and Keisean Nixon are in running to be South Carolina’s starting punt returner when the season begins, special teams coach Coleman Hutzler said Friday.

We have a lot of names in the hat right now,” Hutzler said. “Obviously, Sept. 1 we have to pick one out.”

There is no leader at the moment, Hutzler said.

“We have an open competition,” he said, “and it’s been awesome honestly ... having some more bodies to go back there and compete and having the bodies to go do it. It’s been a great competition.”

Chris Lammons returned every punt for South Carolina in 2017 but finished his eligibility last season. The Gamecocks were 12th in the SEC in punt returns, averaging 7.05 yards per return.

Senior wide receiver Deebo Samuel will return kickoffs for the Gamecocks. Running backs A.J. Turner and Rico Dowdle, Edwards, Vann and Nixon also are practicing at the position