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 offensive line room as it stands today going into the 2023 spring. *Rosters are subject to change at any point*
Overall Position Overview: Let’s start by saying this. The offensive line is always going to be the most critiqued unit on the field. Over the last few years, this unit is no different than any other on the offensive side of the football in that they have had to experience what is now four different coordinators at South Carolina. I loved what this group did last year down the stretch. The skill position players get all the love and publicity, but the offensive line was extremely instrumental in what happened down the stretch in 2022 to turn the season around. Lonnie Teasley also now takes over in a full-time role as offensive line coach for Greg Adkins who moved into an off the field role. Unfortunately, many of them have graduated. However, the Gamecocks have brought in talent from the portal and as pointed out in the Recruiting Roundup article from January, the Gamecocks are bringing in blue chip offensive lineman at a pace never seen before at Carolina.
Offensive Line Breakdown: The offensive line is such a fluid position, and it is impossible to really understand and grasp what the lineup and rotation will look like in Charlotte in September. So, this is what we are going to do with this position. I am going to discuss the players that have come in and break down where I project these players will fit in next year. The Gamecocks are replacing starting center and sixth year veteran Eric Douglas, who I believe Lou Holtz recruited and signed. Center is obviously a huge position along the offensive line and Carolina will have to find someone to step in immediately and play it. Much like they have done in the past, the Gamecocks went into the transfer portal to find help at a position of need, this time with Nick Gargiulo from Yale. Gargiulo just looks like a nasty center that will fight for 60 minutes. At 6-5 and over 300 pounds, the middle of the offensive line looks to be set, barring something unforeseen happening. This is a relief as well, because if the center job is locked down, the rest of the offensive line can be built.
Next, let’s look at both guard positions. In short? I have no idea. I don’t *think* Tyshawn Wannamaker is going to start at one of the guards, even though I believe he is one of the best guards they have, I just believe he will be the first man up at right tackle. That brings us to Vershon Lee and Jakai Moore. These are the two players that I believe end up starting at guard in the first game of the season. To be fair, I believe any of these 3 interior guys can play either guard or center. Trai Jones, yes the fullback that caught the touchdown against Auburn in 2021, is also in the mix at guard as well. Now, let’s talk about Markee Anderson, the 4 star true freshman from Dorman High School. I don’t think Anderson is going to be starting at guard in the first game of the season, but I also would not be shocked if he plays guard against UNC at some point.
Now we will talk about the tackle position. I believe this is going to be a little bit easier to figure out. At left tackle, I believe you can nail down Jaylen Nichols there as of today and feel good about what he is going to do. At right tackle, this is where things get complicated. I believe that Wannamaker is going to start at right tackle out of necessity just because there is nobody else there to handle it right now due to some injuries. Carson Henry is a guy that will push for that job but he is still recovering from surgery. So, I will say this about the right tackle position: The first guy I believe you will see out there in the spring game is Tyshawn Wannamaker. Will it stay that way throughout the summer and going into the fall? I have no idea.
In conclusion, I believe the offensive line from left to right will look like this: Nichols-Moore-Gargiulo-Lee-Wannamaker. At least that is what I believe the first group up will be in Charlotte. This projection can and will change multiple times between now and September. One thing I feel really good about is the Gamecocks have the right man in charge of the offensive line. Teasley did outstanding work last season with the group that was on campus and now he has the job full-time. The Gamecocks continue to recruit impressive offensive line talent and are in line to continue the good work on the recruiting trail with Teasley leading the charge. Whoever is on the field, they will be prepared with Teasley at the helm and I feel good about this unit going into 2023.