As you no doubt recall, 22 football players signed Letters of Intent on Wednesday to play with the South Carolina Gamecocks in 2012. An additional three players (Brock Stadnik, Clayton Stadnik, and Kelvin Rainey) enrolled early for the spring semester.
That gives Steve Spurrier 25 incoming players and only 17 available scholarships. So what does that mean? We've been tracking this issue for some time now, but now that we know the size of the incoming class, it's easier to speculate about what cuts will need to be made. Sometime between now and the fall, 8 players currently on the scholarship roster must be removed from it. Where will these eight players come from?
Fifth Year Players
As I've begun to look back through what happened to previous years' recruiting classes, I've noticed that the practice of nudging out fifth year players who already have their degrees -- and are making or are expected to make minimal contributions to the team - is much more common than I remember.
This is what became of Eric Baker and what appeared to be happening to Kenny Miles. Until it wasn't. And then it was again. The last credible report came from the mouth of Miles' high school coach who said that the redshirt senior is still weighing his options, wanting to make sure that - wherever he is - he's going to play in 2012. That might be a dicey proposition at South Carolina, where new running backs coach Everette Sands' cup runneth over with talented running backs. Honestly, where does Miles fall on a depth chart that features Marcus Lattimore, Brandon Wilds, Shon Carson, and Mike Davis?
Kenny Davis seems like another candidate to leave the team. Davis came in with the 2008 class as a three-star defensive tackle out of Newberry High, redshirting during his first year on campus. He played sparingly in 2009 and 2010 before being moved to offensive guard in 2011, a year in which he never saw the field.
Qua Gilchrist is another possibility. The linebacker from Abbeville, SC only played in 3 games in 2011, recording just one tackle. (That doesn't match my recollection. I seem to remember seeing him on the field more often, but those are the numbers I got from the the athletic department's website.)
Going out on a bit of a limb, I'll submit that parting ways with D.L. Moore might not be the worst idea. I keep waiting him for him to break out and become at least a decent backup, yet he continues to disappoint. D.L. played in 11 games in 2011, with just 8 catches for 52 yards.
Jhaustin Thomas is the only incoming player that people are openly talking about having some academic hurdles to clear. Apparently he has to have a pretty serious improvement in his ACT score if he's going to qualify. I've heard people on the radio (Jim Baxter, Chris Clark) and "insiders" on other sites allude to at least a second player having academic issues, but I haven't been able to figure out who that might be. Two would be an unusually low number of non-qualifiers, so maybe there are others that we don't know about.
Kendric Salley injured his knee during his senior season at Williston Elko and is not expected to be ready for the start of fall practice. Salley maintains that the coaching staff has never broached the subject of greyshirting, but this is still something to keep an eye on.
Two Sport Players
Bruce Ellington remains inscrutable on the question of whether he will choose to focus on one sport next year and, if so, which one. Everyone's hunch seems to be that it would be basketball, but it's not entirely clear on what these hunches are based - and honestly, if I had the kid's ear, I'd tell him to get as far away from Darrin Horn's basketball program as possible. Besides, Devan Downey-lite isn't exactly a skills profile that screams "future NBA player."
As with D.L. Moore, I feel like I'm stepping out on a limb with this one: Shon Carson. This is wild speculation, and I'd guess that the possibility of this happening is extremely remote, but since the possibility exists at all and there don't seem to be many other possibilities, it's at least something worth exploring hypothetically. Carson is probably a better baseball than football prospect at the next level. He was taken in the 44th round of the MLB draft out of high school and expressed some regret via his Twitter feed at not seizing the opportunity to turn pro. He later recanted, stating that he was quoting a song lyric, but I must confess that I'm ignorant as to which artist the line "I shoulda gone pro" belongs. Admittedly, the kid is going through a lot. I can't imagine what it would be like to have everything riding on your legs and suddenly have them fail you. So maybe the tweet was just an act of frustration. After all, anyone who follows him knows that he isn't particularly discriminating when it comes to deciding which of his thoughts are worth sharing with the public.
Currently Suspended Players
Byron Jerideau and Brison Williams are currently suspended indefinitely from the team. I wouldn't think that either of their actions (Jerideau, Williams) are worthy of getting kicked off the team, but you never know with this stuff. Williams in particular would be expected to contribute in 2012.
Doing the Math
The players mentioned above total ten, but a few of them aren't very realistic candidates to leave or be dismissed from the team. More likely, it will be some combination of the more obvious choices above and others that we won't see coming.