With the season opener against North Carolina less than two weeks away, South Carolina’s depth chart is starting to take shape.
The Gamecocks had their second scrimmage of the preseason on Saturday, and coach Shane Beamer was asked during Tuesday’s weekly press conference about some of the lingering position battles and key starters in some spots.
Here are some of the highlights what Beamer said. An official first-week depth chart is expected to be released next Tuesday:
Backup QB set for now
Beamer said Luke Doty is set to be the team’s backup quarterback behind Spencer Rattler. Freshman LaNorris Sellers has gotten a lot of attention and hype coming in and was thought to be pushing Doty. TheBigSpur reported earlier this month that Doty was getting some reps at receiver, a position he played at the beginning of his high school career at Myrtle Beach and briefly as a college freshman in 2020.
“I really like that quarterback room. It is really a bunch of good young men that are making each other better,” Beamer said. “LaNorris has gotten better this preseason and done good things. Luke has as well. ... But that position and every position we have on our team is in constant competition.”
Top three receivers separate themselves
Beamer said — as long as Antwane Wells is healthy — that he, Ahmarean Brown and Xavier Legette would be the team’s top three receivers to start the season. Wells has been recovering from an unspecified lower-body injury and missed Saturday’s scrimmage. Beamer expects Wells to play against UNC, but he’s not at “full-go” practice status yet.
Things are pretty wide open behind those three. Beamer said there’ll be a lot of “or” designations next to the receiver spot when the first depth chart is released next week.
“It is not as solidified as I would like, to be honest,” Beamer said. “... Who is four, five, six or seven, is to be determined.”
Former South Pointe High standout O’Mega Blake has been getting a lot of hype in preseason and is in the mix for playing time. Beamer said he wants to see more consistency from Blake.
Starting secondary is solidified
The Gamecocks lost two starting cornerbacks in Cam Smith and Darius Rush from the 2022 roster, but Beamer said Marcellas Dial and O’Donnell Fortune should be penciled in to start there, with sophomores DQ Smith and Nick Emmanwori as the safeties.
“Those four are solid starting four at corner and safety,” Beamer said. “That group behind them is a bunch of young guys that are talented. I’m excited about the freshman class.”
Some of those true or redshirt guys include Vicari Swain, Kajuan Banks, Peyton Williams, Emory Floyd and Keenan Nelson, who played a lot in the bowl game against Notre Dame. Beamer indicated that Nelson is the team’s starting nickel.
Offensive tackle spots open
Beamer said one of the biggest remaining battles is who will start and back up at the offensive tackle spots.
Jaylen Nichols was in line to be one of the starters but will miss most of the season after being injured in the spring game. The two spots seem to be a battle between Jakai Moore, Tyshawn Wannamaker, transfer Jaxon Hughes and redshirt freshman Cason Henry. Hughes and Henry were spotted with the first team at Thursday’s practice viewing period open to the media.
Dakereon Joyner is starting running back
Dakereon Joyner is playing his third position since arriving at USC and will enter the opener as the team’s starting running back, Beamer said.
Joyner began his career at USC playing quarterback before moving to receiver. It’s unclear who will back up the former Fort Dorchester standout, with JuJu McDowell, Mario Anderson and freshman Djay Braswell all vying for playing time.