This is an article I have been looking forward to doing for some time. We’re going to break down another position group today, and we are doing the receiving corps. For me and many other college football junkies, we know this should be the strength of the team. New offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon has inherited a very talented group of guys.
With third-year starter Jake Bentley under center again and the new up-tempo offense McClendon is wanting to run, there is reason for optimism. The loss of first-round tight end Hayden Hurst means that someone new is going to have to step in the role of Mr. Dependable. Jacob August is the starter going into fall camp with Kyle Markway, K.C. Crosby, Evan Hinson, and Kiel Pollard battling behind him. Right now it has a feel of tight end by committee. Now, I don’t think anyone but Hayden Hurst can bring what he did to the team as far as leadership and talent. What coach Will Muschamp will want is just production from these guys. With the experience that August and Crosby have, that shouldn’t be a problem.
But lets face it, tight ends aren’t why opposing defensive coordinators are going to have trouble sleeping before they play the Garnet and Black. Bryan Edwards is a nightmare. The 6-foot-3 junior led the team in receiving yards with 793 yards while catching 5 touchdowns last season. He has progressed every year under Muschamp and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down. With the ability to out-jump most defenders and hands as soft as an eagle wing, he could have a year that lands him All-SEC. (My bold prediction is that he will be at least second-team All-SEC.)
Sophomore Shi Smith had himself a nice year as well in 2017, tallying 409 yards on 29 receptions and nabbing 3 touchdowns.
OrTre Smith, Chavis Dawkins, and Randrecous Davis all look to get action in for the Gamecocks as well. OrTre had a pretty productive 2017, catching 30 passes, which was third most on the team. He was ranked fourth in the SEC in receptions per game by freshmen with 2.3 a game. For the Gamecocks to be where they want to be in 2018, OrTre and Shi Smith need to have very productive years.
So with that said, the Gamecocks look to be in good position.
Oh. I forgot one. The preseason first team All-SEC wide reciever/returner Deebo Samuel. I mean, what do I need to say? If not for a season-ending injury, he very well may have been an All-American candidate in 2017. The six-footer is back and healthy, and that means we get to see Deebo be Deebo. Who knows what would have happened last year if Samuel had not gone down with a broken leg against Kentucky. What I do know, though, is that he is the most explosive player in the SEC as a receiver, and maybe in the nation as a returner.
So sit back and enjoy: This looks to be an air raid offense, and the Gamecocks have the talent and depth at the receiver position to put up some points this season.