Within days of each other, two Gamecock upperclassmen receivers announced they would not return to the program in 2015, thinning the ranks of a position where South Carolina already lacks depth and star power aside from superstar Pharoh Cooper.
K.J. Brent and Kane Whitehurst each announced this week that they do not plan to return to the Gamecocks in 2015. Whitehurst plans to stay at Carolina and graduate in the fall. Brent will seek a transfer.
Brent entered the 2014 season with three seasons behind him in the program (the first of which a redshirt year), where each year he seemed to show promise in practice but never really saw playing time once the season started rolling along. He cracked the starting rotation in 2014 and grabbed three receptions for 39 yards in the first two games, but failed to record a statistic in the following three contests.
In total, Brent finished 2014 with just nine catches for 111 yards and a touchdown, a 16-yard reception against East Carolina that gave the Gamecocks breathing room.
Whitehurst came to Carolina as a transfer from Arkansas, and originally walked onto the Gamecock football team. He made an immediate impact once he saw the field:
Whitehurst finished the 2013 season with four receptions for 66 yards, including a second touchdown catch in garbage time against his old school, Arkansas, in a 52-7 win for Carolina.
In 2014, however, Whitehurst rarely saw the field, never recording a single catch for the Gamecocks. With a transfer already under his belt and approaching graduation, Whitehurst saw fit to finish his football career and start his non-football life.
The losses leave the Gamecocks with just three scholarship receivers returning: Shamier Jeffrey, Carlton Heard, and of course Cooper. They'll also bring back three redshirt freshmen receivers: Deebo Samuel, Shaq Davidson, and Terry Googer. Of course, Carolina plans to add additional receivers to its corps on National Signing Day next Wednesday.
While neither Brent nor Whitehurst were expected to star on the 2015 team, they were going to provide depth at a position where the Gamecocks all of a sudden look rather thin. Their departures mean that players that haven't seen meaningful playing time for Carolina will need to step up quickly to help out whoever becomes the new signal caller. With all the turnover at critical skill positions, it looks likely the Gamecock offense may take a step back from its 2014 level of production.