It’s never too early to project future somethings, especially in sports. Here’s a quick look at our projected depth chart for 2014, along with the position grades for the depth and ability for each unit. (Projected starters in italics)
Dylan Thompson: 6-3, 218 RS Senior/ Boiling Springs, S.C.
Brendan Nosovitch: 6-1, 220 RS Sophomore/ Allentown, Pa.
Connor Mitch: 6-3, 227 RS Freshman/ Raleigh, N.C.
This job is Thompson’s to lose. This has been the year he has been waiting four long seasons for after serving as Connor Shaw’s second banana and all bets are on him succeeding in his final year at South Carolina. If he couldn’t go for some reason, it’d be a toss-up between Nosovitch and Mitch. Nosovitch is more like Shaw in that he has the dual-threat aspect to him, while Mitch is more of a pocket passer who showed in the spring that he can sling the rock very well. Grade: B+
Mike Davis: 5-9, 215 Junior/ Lithonia, Ga.
Brandon Wilds: 6-2, 223 Junior/ Blythewood, S.C.
David Williams: 6-1, 200 RS Freshman/ Philadelphia, Pa.
Not much change here in the running back position. Davis and Wilds will still be an effective one-two punch at tailback, with all fingers crossed that Wilds can stay healthy for a whole year. Look for Williams to work his way into the lineup as well. Grade: A
Rory “Buster” Anderson: 6-5, 242 Senior/ Powder Springs, Ga.
Jerell Adams: 6-6, 233 Junior/ Pinewood, S.C.
Drew Owens: 6-6, 247 RS junior/ Charlotte, N.C.
No change here at the tight end position. They weren’t very involved this year in the offense, and with the way the offense has worked the past two years there is no telling whether or not they’ll become more involved next season. Anderson has done nothing to lose the job so far, and Adams hasn’t done anything to move up. Grade: B
Shaq Roland: 6-1, 190 Junior/ Lexington, S.C.
Damiere Byrd: 5-9, 166 Senior/ Sicklerville, N.J.
Bruce Ellington: 5-9, 196 Senior/ Moncks Corner, S.C.
Pharoh Cooper: 5-11, 184 Sophomore/ Havelock, N.C.
Nick Jones: 5-7, 174 RS Senior/ Moore, S.C.
Shamier Jeffery: 6-1, 207 RS Junior/ St. Matthews, S.C.
There is no reason to see change in the starting three receivers from this year. Ellington has been nothing but consistent, Byrd is a threat deep, and Roland’s emergence at the end of 2013 has secured his starting role for 2014. While Jones will be in the mix, look for Cooper and Jeffery to work their way into the rotation as well. This looks to be one of the better units the Gamecocks will return in 2014. Grade: A-
Brandon Shell: 6-6, 323 RS Junior/ Goose Creek, S.C.
Corey Robinson: 6-8, 343 RS Senior/ Havelock, N.C.
Mason Zandi: 6-9, 293 RS Sophomore/ Chapin, S.C.
D.J. Park: 6-4, 334 RS Freshman/ Dillon, S.C.
Cody Gibson: 6-7, 286 RS Senior/ Tallahassee, Fl.
With Shell and Robinson back, Dylan Thomson will have excellent pass protection from the tackle positions. Behemoth Zandi would be first in line to take over the if either Shell or Robinson go down. Look for freshman Park to use his size to work into the mix and for Gibson to provide experience to the tackle position. Grade: B+
Brock Stadnik: 6-5, 286 RS Sophomore/ Greensboro, N.C.
A.J. Cann: 6-4, 314 RS Senior/ Bamberg, S.C.
Will Sport: 6-5, 294 RS Junior/ Milton, Fl.
Bryce King: 6-3, 281 RS Freshman/ Dillon, S.C.
Guard will be a big question mark for the Gamecocks in 2014. Ronald Patrick will be graduating, A.J. Cann has stated he would put in his papers to take a look at his draft stock, but overall the indications say he will stay. Stadnik is the only player with some experience here, but look for Sport to start next year on his size and age alone. Depth is a concern, as King is the only guard left on the Gamecocks current roster. Look for some shake-up and position changes to fix this problem. Grade: B-
Cody Waldrop: 6-2, 319 RS Sophomore/ Seffner, Fl.
Clayton Stadnik: 6-3, 281 RS Sophomore/ Greensboro, N.C.
Nothing new here. While I personally don’t believe there is any dropoff between these two, Waldrop has done nothing to lose his starting position. This is the only position on the Gamecock offensive line that has any real solidarity coming into 2014. Grade: B
J.T. Surratt: 6-2, 307 RS Senior: Winston-Salem, N.C.
Gerald Dixon Jr.: 6-3, 318 RS Junior: Rock Hill, S.C.
Phillip Dukes: 6-3, 315 RS Junior: Manning, S.C.
Kelsey Griffin: 6-2, 292 Sophomore: Buford, G.A.
With Kelcy Quarles gone, there will be a big hole to fill in the middle of the defensive line. South Carolina has the size to fill it though, with Dixon Jr. and Dukes both tipping the scales at 300 plus pounds. Griffin should look to work into the rotation after learning from the bench in 2013 and of course Surratt will be back to provide leadership to an important group for South Carolina.Grade: B+
Gerald Dixon: 6-2, 268 RS Junior: Rock Hill, S.C.
Darius English: 6-6, 225 RS Sophomore: Powder Springs, Ga.
Mason Harris: 6-3, 218 RS Junior: Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.
Michael Washington: 6-3, 243 Junior: Allendale, S.C.
This will be the biggest question mark on South Carolina’s defense. With the loss of Clowney and Sutton there will be a huge lack of pass rushers for the Gamecocks. Dixon should start on one side, while if English can gain about 20 pounds he can be a formidable starting end in the SEC. Harris should see some time after playing sparingly this year, and Washington will look to burst on the scene after transferring from South Carolina State. Grade: C+
Kaiwan Lewis: 6-0, 221 Junior/ Mays Landing, N.J.
Skai Moore: 6-2, 205 Sophomore/ Cooper City, Fl.
Marcquis Roberts: 6-1, 225 RS Junior/ Powder Springs, Ga.
T.J. Holloman: 6-2, 228 RS Junior/ Stone Mountain, Ga.
No change here at the inside linebacker spots either. After a rough 2013, this unit will have solidarity and experience in 2014. Lewis and Moore will hold down the middle, while Roberts and Holloman will provide adequate depth behind them. This unit is the biggest wildcard for the Gamecocks, as they’re improvement will be key to the defense’s success next season. Grade: B-
Sharrod Golightly: 5-10, 195 RS Senior/ Decatur, Ga.
Jordan Diggs: 6-0, 214 RS Sophomore/Fort Myers, Fl.
This position is honestly still up for grabs. Golightly has played well down the stretch, but Diggs is a more physically impressive specimen with more room to grow. The spring will tell who snags this spot in 2014, but for now since he’s picked it up in the past five weeks Golightly keeps his spot in this article. Grade: C+
Ahmad Christian: 5-10, 189 RS Junior/ Jacksonville, Fl.
Rico McWilliams: 5-11, 187 RS Sophomore/ Hampton, Ga.
Ali Groves: 5-10, 184 Sophomore/ Stone Mountain, Ga.
Sidney Rhodes: 5-10, 167 Senior/ Piedmont, S.C.
This is another spot that will be a serious concern for South Carolina’s defense in 2014. Jimmy Legree and likely Victor Hampton will both be gone, leaving little to no starting experience to fill in. The only real experience this group returns is Christian, who showed he had some ability in 2013. McWilliams, Groves and Rhodes will have to prove in the spring they can handle the athletes they’ll face in the SEC. Grade: C-
Brison Williams: 5-11, 218 Senior/ Warner Robbins, Ga.
Chaz Elder: 6-2, 199 RS Sophomore/ Union City, Ga.
T.J. Gurley: 5-10, 196 Junior/ Cairo, Ga.
Kadetrix Marcus: 6-1, 195 Senior/ Stone Mountain, Ga.
While the corner situation is funny at best, the safeties are in much better shape. Williams and Elder has held down the back end of the defense very well in 2013, while Gurley and Marcus should provide acceptable depth. Next to defensive tackles, this unit is in the best shape for 2014 on the Gamecock defense. Grade: B+
Connor McLaurin 6-0, 237 RS Senior/ Raleigh, N.C.
Elliot Fry 6-0, 150 Sophomore/ Frisco, Tx.
Tyler Hull 6-2, 206 RS Senior/ Mount Airy, N.C.