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Rico Dowdle led South Carolina in rushing last year. What will his sophomore season hold?

We kick off our look at the Gamecock running backs by starting with the man from Asheville.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s The Final Cockdown’s Running Backs week! We go down the depth chart and take a look at who will have a shot at carrying the ball out of the backfield in 2017. Last week, we covered quarterbacks - if you missed that, here you go:

Jake Bentley | Michael Scarnecchia | Bailey Hart and Danny Gordon | Jay Urich

#23 Rico Dowdle

Sophomore / 6’ / 216 / Asheville, NC / A.C. Reynolds

The #23 holds some very positive connotations when you’re an athlete. The most famous celebrity to hail from the state of North Carolina wore the number, and all he did was win six titles in the NBA, retire as one of the league’s top five scores, and transcend his sport in a way few have.

Rico Dowdle probably won’t become as synonymous with football as Michael Jordan is with basketball, but he had a pretty decent season as a freshman: 133 carries, 764 yards, and six touchdowns. And that was despite missing the first four games of the season!

The Asheville native will obviously be under the microscope as he’ll be out to prove that 2016 wasn’t a fluke and that he can take a big step toward becoming one of the top running backs in the SEC. South Carolina, as a whole, will have plenty of help in the backfield to complement Dowdle: A.J. Turner and UNC Ty’Son Williams. More on them later this week.

Dowdle’s 2016 stats: 133 carries, 764 yards, six TDs | Athlon SEC All-Freshman Second Team

Recruitment: Three-star recruit; App State, Boston College, Charlotte, N.C. State, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest were his offers. After visits to N.C. State and South Carolina, he committed to the Gamecocks on January 15, 2016.

Selected highlight: “THAT WAS SOMETHING SEXY THERE AT THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE” - Todd Ellis, October 29, 2016

Next up: Rico’s potential backup...maybe?