Connor Shaw will have the benefit of a veteran offensive line, a rarity for South Carolina quarterbacks, during his senior campaign in 2013.
In case you don't understand what the titles of blog posts are for, this one is going to be about me looking ahead to the Gamecock football team's 2013 two deep. Yes, I know the 2012 football season hasn't started yet. Yes, I know the first depth chart of the 2012 season hasn't been released yet. Yes, I've been referred to a mental health professional.
We'll start with the offense today and pick up with the defense next week:
Brandon Wilds (Jr.)
Mike Davis (Rs. Fr.)
1) Ace Sanders (Sr.)
2) KJ Brent (Rs. So.)
1) Jerrell Adams (So.)
2) Kelvin Rainey (Rs. Fr.)
1) Buster Anderson (Jr.)
2) Drew Owens (Rs. So.)
1) Brandon Shell (Rs. So.)
2) Corey Robinson (Rs. Jr.)
1) AJ Cann (Rs. Jr.)
2) Will Sport (Rs. So.)
1) Kyle Harris (Rs. So.)
2) Clayton Stadnik (Rs. Fr.)
1) Ronald Patrick (Rs. Sr.)
2) Brock Stadnick (Rs. Fr.)
Read my analysis after the jump.
Notes: This, of course, assumes that Marcus Lattimore will decide to go pro after a successful 2012 campaign. Even accounting for that immeasurable loss, the Gamecocks could still return as many of 9 out of 11 starters on offense in 2013, including four out of five starters on what, by then, will be a talented, experienced, and deep offensive line, something South Carolina fans are only accustomed to admiring from afar. The offensive line's only anticipated loss will be four-year starter T.J. Johnson, who will need just eight games to eclipse Cliff Matthews as South Carolina's all-time leader in games started. That loss, though significant, will be abated by the talent and quality depth that should return around him.
With that much returning from an offense in 2012 that I anticipate to be among the top four in the SEC in yards per play, the Gamecocks might be primed to have one of the best offenses in the country in 2013. For that to happen, however, someone will need to step forward at wide receiver. Between Roland, Brent, Byrd, Smith, and Ellington, there are enough bodies with enough upside that you have to think at least one or two of them will step forward and become a nice complement to Ace Sanders in his senior campaign.
The tight end position figures to join the quarterback and offensive line as one of the position groups with the most certainty, with 6'5'' Buster Anderson and 6'6'' Jerrell Adams returning as dangerous, towering pass-catching options.
Obviously, if Lattimore decides to return in 2013, Steve Spurrier's offense would be a cinch to be among the truly elite nationally. (Unlike with Jadeveon Clowney, Spurrier is at least not openly acknowledging the inevitability that he will leave early.) Even if he does leave, the running back depth that has been recruited to Columbia should allow them to not miss much of a beat. Brandon Wilds (4.54 ypc) proved himself a worthy Lattimore placeholder during the second half of 2011 and will be a contender to replace him when he eventually leaves. Mike Davis came in as a highly-regarded high school back with excellent blood lines, has looked impressive for a freshman in fall practice, and has the potential to make the South Carolina rushing record books very confusing. And don't forget about Shon Carson, who was Lattimore's backup before getting the Knee Ligament Tearing Party started in the Georgia game last year.