Josh Kendall

Star gazing: A recruit-rating look at the Gamecocks’ starters

South Carolina’s Brandon Shell is one of the highest-rated recruits in the Gamecocks’ starting lineup
South Carolina’s Brandon Shell is one of the highest-rated recruits in the Gamecocks’ starting lineup dmclemore@thestate.com

How talented is South Carolina’s football team?

That’s become the most asked question of the 2015 football season thanks to the Gamecocks’ 1-2 start. It’s hard to give a definitive answer, but there are several ways to look at it. Here’s one: 247Sports ranks the Gamecocks No. 22 in the country in what it calls “Team Talent Composite.” The measure is based on how each player on the team was ranked at the time of their enrollment.

That ranking takes into account more than 80 players, though. So we thought we’d look at just the 22 expected to start Saturday against UCF. That group features 17 three-star players and five four-star players, giving the lineup an average of 3.23 out of five stars.

Three of the five four-star players are first year players – freshman quarterback Lorenzo Nunez, freshman center Zack Bailey and junior college transfer defensive end Marquavius Lewis.

Of the 29 players who were the most highly ranked by 247Sports entering school, only four are expected to start against the Knights – Nunez, Bailey, Lewis and left tackle Brandon Shell.

“We have a lot of players who have practiced very well and all of a sudden, they’re in the ball game and don’t quite play as well as they’ve practiced,” head coach Steve Spurrier said. “Some guys can maybe play the game better than they’ve practiced.”

USC starter rankings

OFFENSE

WR DJ Neal, Stone Mountain, Ga., 3 Stars

WR Pharoh Cooper, Havelock, N.C. 3 Stars

WR Terry Googer, Atlanta, Ga. 3 Stars

LT Brandon Shell, Goose Creek 4 Stars

LG Mike Matulis, Boynton Beach, Fla. 3 Stars

C Zack Bailey, Summerville, S.C. 4 Stars

RG Will Sport, Milton, Fla. 3 Stars

RT Mason Zandi, Chapin 3 Stars

TE Jerell Adams, Pinewood 4 Stars

QB Lorenzo Nunez, Kennesaw, Ga. 4 Stars

RB Shon Carson, Scranton 3 Stars

DEFENSE

DE David Johnson, Lithonia, Ga. 3 Stars

DT Taylor Stallworth, Mobile, Ala. 3 Stars

DT Gerald Dixon Jr., Rock Hill 3 Stars

DE Marquavius Lewis, Greenwood 4 Stars

LB Skai Moore, Cooper City, Fla. 3 Stars

LB T.J. Holloman, Stone Mountain, Ga. 3 Stars

NB T.J. Gurley, Cairo, Ga. 3 Stars

CB Rico McWilliams, Hampton, Ga. 3 Stars

S Isaiah Johnson, Cary, N.C. 3 Stars

S Jordan Diggs, Fort Myers, Fla. 3 Stars

CB Al Harris, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 3 Stars

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