South Carolina had one of its better spring games on April 16th. Instead of the traditional 1st team vs 2nd team format, Coach Beamer split the teams up to be as competitive as possible. A number of players took advantage of the opportunity and gave Carolina fans reason for optimism heading into the summer months.
Quarterback Spencer Rattler is as good as advertised. He displayed a strong, lively arm and the ability to get the ball to its target in a hurry. Rattler exhibited pocket awareness and enough elusiveness to scramble effectively when the play broke down. Luke Doty is the clear backup and should be able to help this team win games if needed. Doty flashed a stronger and more accurate arm than what’s been displayed in the past and moved around comfortably in the pocket.
Running back may be the deepest position group on the team. Marshawn Lloyd flaunted in the spring game what he’s been flashing all summer. He’s explosive, strong, and has the ability to make defenders miss in close proximity. This healthy version of Lloyd looks like the five star running back he was recruited as coming out of high school. Christian Beal-Smith may not have the same type of explosiveness as Lloyd, but he’s powerful, possesses excellent vision, and demonstrates a strong burst when hitting the hole. Juju McDowell is an explosive player and the staff will need to find various ways of getting him the ball. Rashad Amos has earned some playing time as well. He’s physical, runs hard, and exhibits a strong burst when hitting the hole.
Josh Vann is still the top option at wide receiver, but Antwane Wells has built a rapport with Rattler and will likely be one of the top targets in 2022. Xavier Leggette now looks the part of an SEC wide receiver and seems to have a better grasp of what’s expected of him. Ahmarean Brown set some key blocks in the spring game and will likely see more playing time in 2022 due to his speed and willingness to block. Trey Adkins has also proven to be a willing blocker.
If the spring game was any indication, the tight ends will be heavily utilized in 2022. Chad Terrell, a former wide receiver, opened some eyes with his pass catching ability and willingness to block. Trae Kenion has taken another step forward in his route running and continues to be a crushing blocker as an in-line tight end. Wyatt Campbell was a load to handle as a blocking in-line tight end and should see playing time in short yardage situations.
The offensive line showed improvement after a strong offseason with the strength and conditioning program, second year in the offense with the same position coach, and improved talent all around them. The first team line from left to right: Jaylen Nichols, Vershon Lee, Eric Douglas, JoVaughn Gwyn, Tyshawn Wannamaker. Jakai Moore was the 2nd team left tackle and looked promising in his first live action returning from injury. He’ll likely push for the starting left tackle position as the season approaches. Trai Jones was the 2nd team left guard and was impressive. His ability to pull and subsequently unload on a defender is something Carolina fans have not seen in some time. Jones will push for a starting role. Hank Manos was the backup center and looked solid.
Zacch Pickens is entrenched as one starting defensive tackle, but there is a battle for who will start beside him. Boogie Huntley has taken a leap in his development and exhibited the ability to hold his ground against the run as well as rush the passer. Tonka Hemingway provides pass rush, while Nick Barrett is large, strong, and difficult to displace. MJ Webb had a leg up on the others, but will have a difficult time holding down a starting spot with the type of development taking place.
Jordan Burch has All-SEC potential and looks primed to have a major year. Jordan Strachan flashed his pass rush ability, but still needs to shore up his run defense. Gilmer Edmund physically looks the part and made some plays in the spring game, but needs to be more consistent. Terrell Dawkins put on a show against the third string left tackle. He will see playing time and continue to climb the depth chart as he becomes more comfortable in the system.
Sherrod Greene was moving around well and did not show many ill effects from his injury. Debo Williams was the best linebacker on the field for the spring game. He was physical, diagnosed plays quickly, and abruptly reached the ball carrier. Bam Martin-Scott saw extensive time in the second half and displayed an explosive burst. He’s still a little slow in diagnosing the play, but has ample ability to promptly get from point A to point B.
In the secondary, Cam Smith looks ready for a breakout year. He’s explosive and will likely stay in the Nickel position for 2022 season. Marcellus Dial and Darius Rush have carried over their play from the end of 2021. Anthony Rose flashed his athletic ability, but is still learning the technicalities of the defensive scheme. Peyton Williams’ play stood out at the safety position. He was flying all over the field, wasn’t afraid to come down into the box, took excellent angles, and exhibited solid tackling form. He’s a player that will push for playing time in 2022 and may turn out to be one of the better defensive backs in the 2022 recruiting class.
Unlike in 2021 where depth issues were a concern to kick off the Beamer era, the 2022 team has talent across the board. Carolina has an embellishment of riches at a handful of positions and will need to get down to the 85 scholarship limit. Expect more outgoing transfers in the coming months as well as the potential of a few new additions.
The current roster is not yet complete and more playmakers will be arriving. Expectations have been raised for this iteration of South Carolina football. This team should be a formidable one and they will have their opportunity to climb the SEC football ladder.