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Offseason Outlook: Running Backs

Taking a position-by-position view of South Carolina’s roster.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 12 South Carolina at Florida Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This offseason we will be breaking down the positions on the roster following the chaotic roster turnover after the 2022 season. Today, we will take a look at the quarterback room as it stands today going into the 2023 spring. *Rosters are subject to change at any point*

Overall Position Overview: We will begin here by looking at the position as a whole. Honestly, over the course of the last season and heading into the spring of 2023, I don’t really know what to make of this position. Marshawn Lloyd has transferred and he was the main starting running back in 2022 but he battled injuries for much of the second half of the season. The guy that got the bulk of the carries in Lloyd’s absence was Jaheim Bell, who was technically a tight end. He, too, has since departed the program. Carolina is also replacing backup running back Christian Beal-Smith who transferred in for the 2022 season from Wake Forest. Rashad Amos has also since transferred. We will examine the guys that are there as of today, but my overall assessment of this position on the surface as that it could use some help out of the transfer portal. There isn’t a proven guy that you can depend on to have 20 carries in an SEC game. They have added some guys to the roster so far this offseason, but I suspect that the Gamecocks are not done adding players to this position group for the 2023 season.

Mario Anderson: The Newberry transfer committed and signed with the Gamecocks in December. At 5-9, 210 pounds Anderson was a guy that was able to carry the load over three seasons for the Wolves. In those three seasons, Anderson rushed for 3,301 yards on 513 carries and 35 rushing touchdowns. South Carolina is in desperate need of a running back that can be relied on to be able to carry the ball 15-20 times a game in the SEC, and Anderson projects to be a guy that can fill that role. Honestly, I don’t care about the level that he played his first three years of college football on. He is a powerful running back that has shown he can stay on the field over the course of an entire season. That is something that the Gamecocks have been starved for since Kevin Harris departed. As it stands today, Mario Anderson might just be the first guy on the field in Charlotte at running back and projects to be the guy that gets the bulk of the carries if the Gamecocks do not add someone else through the portal.

Syndication: News-Journal John Blackie/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

Juju McDowell: Juju McDowell has been a productive player for the Gamecocks in his first two seasons in Columbia and has had some big moments. Going all the way back to his first road game in 2021 when the Gamecocks were struggling with East Carolina. McDowell bailed the Gamecocks out in the 4th quarter on offense and on special teams on their way to a 20-17 victory. McDowell had some big moments in the Dukes Mayo Bowl victory over North Carolina as well. In 2022, McDowell seemed to make his biggest plays out of the backfield in the passing game with a touchdown reception against Tennessee as well as the 65 yard catch and run against Clemson. McDowell is going to have to play a bigger role for the Gamecocks in 2023, but at only 180 pounds, it is hard to envision McDowell as a guy that can carry the ball double digit amounts in SEC games. McDowell is an explosive weapon for the Gamecocks, and Dowell Loggains will need to find ways to get McDowell involved in multiple ways on the offense.

NCAA Football: Georgia at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Lovasea Carroll: Carroll is the wildcard for this entire room. Carroll was heavily recruited out of high school by the Gamecocks but ultimately chose the Georgia Bulldogs over the Gamecocks. Once the 4 star running back got to Athens, he was promptly switched to a defensive back. Carroll transferred to South Carolina following the 2021 season and returned to being a running back. Carroll was an electric running back coming out of high school and that is where the Gamecocks envision him for the 2023 season. Carroll spent the 2022 season redshirting while physically and mentally returning back to being a running back. Why is Carroll the wildcard for this position? In my opinion, Carroll has the highest upside out of anyone at running back for Carolina. Carroll’s ceiling can be one that he is one of the best running backs in the SEC, but he has also not logged a collegiate carry yet so nobody knows exactly what the Gamecocks are getting with Carroll just yet. The returns out of practice down the stretch in the 2022 season is that he began to really take a step forward in his development. Carroll is a player that I will be very eager to hear how he performs in the spring.

Syndication: The Tennessean Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Dontavius Braswell: Braswell, a 4 star member of the 2023 recruiting class, is already on campus. Braswell will be a guy to watch in the spring. There is a pretty good chance that Braswell will get a decent amount of carries for the Gamecocks in 2023. However, I will advise people to temper their expectations for him in 2023 for a few reasons. Keep in mind that Braswell is a true freshman. I expect Braswell to take on the role that Mike Davis did in 2012 before Lattimore suffered his season-ending injury. Braswell does not project to be a redshirt candidate, and I expect to see him get carries in each game early on in the season while they are still figuring out who’s role will be what. However, I am always hesitant to project a true freshman running back to start in the SEC. Braswell has a very bright future in Columbia, however.