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Gamecocks Football: Can Deebo Samuel boost a thin receiving corps?

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The redshirt freshman ended spring atop the depth chart. How big a role will he play in Columbia alongside Pharoh Cooper?

The Big Spur

His real name is Tyshun, but he got the nickname "Deebo" from a character in the movie Friday. The South Carolina Gamecocks likely don't care what he calls himself as long as he's lighting it up on Saturdays.

Steve Spurrier and his staff look to be hedging their bets on the fact that Deebo Samuel, a redshirt freshman from right outside Spartanburg, can not only contribute to the offense, but thrive. And they have good reason to. Samuel ended his career at Inman (S.C.) Chapman recording back-to-back seasons of over 1,000 yards receiving (139 catches, 2,430 yards and 33 touchdowns in his final two years) and as a strong option out of the backfield, on defense and on special teams.

Samuel really didn't get a ton of offers out of high school, probably, as noted in our article on him right after National Signing Day in 2014, because he came from a lesser-known school. App State, Charlotte, Clemson, North Carolina, N.C. State, Old Dominion and Vanderbilt were among the schools vying for his services.

When I took a look at Samuel's numbers, I immediately thought of Pharoh Cooper. Samuel will likely be used in the same fashion: you'll primarily see him lined up as a receiver, but don't be surprised to see him lined up in the backfield in other offensive packages and as a returner along with Cooper. It will be interesting to see what Shawn Elliott and Steve Spurrier Jr. are able to cook up to make the most of Samuel's versatility.

Outside of the returning Cooper, there's several question marks in the receiving game for South Carolina. Make that a whole lot of question marks. Shamier Jeffrey, slotted as one of the starters, has just eight receptions for his career. No other player on the roster in the wideout rotation has recorded a reception (unless you count Matrick Belton, whose four catches came at FCS program Hampton before he transferred). That means that players like Samuel and fellow redshirt freshman Shaq Davidson will get a shot to prove themselves, but will need to grow up relatively quickly once the season rolls around.

All signs point to Samuel as a key playmaker for the Gamecocks in 2015. How quickly he acclimates himself in actual game situations will go a long way in how that projection plays out.