Gamecocks’ center battle continues, receivers flash at latest spring practice

·2 min read
Sam Wolfe/Special To The State

South Carolina’s first scrimmage of the spring is just two days away.

The Gamecocks held their eighth spring practice Thursday in anticipation of Saturday’s scrimmage. The first six periods of the session were open to reporters.

Here’s a look at Thursday’s news and notes:

  • South Carolina’s offensive line rotation is starting to take shape. Veteran Vershon Lee spent the bulk of the media viewing window working as the first-team center, snapping to Spencer Rattler during positional work. Yale transfer Nick Gargiulo, who’s expected to play either guard or center this year, worked as the No. 2 center with backup quarterback Luke Doty. Ryan Brubaker and walk-on Jackson Hall also repped at center during Thursday’s practice.

  • Four-star freshman linebacker Grayson “Pup” Howard was back at practice and looked to be a full participant. Howard had been banged up slightly earlier this spring, but looked fluid and full-go during the early part of Thursday’s practice. The Florida product has been on campus since bowl practices in December.

  • Running back Juju McDowell and receivers Dakereon Joyner and Xavier Legette all worked as kick returners during the special teams portion of practice. Legette was one of South Carolina’s primary kick returners last year, setting a school record with a 29.4-yard average on 15 returns — including a 100-yard touchdown on the opening play of the win over Texas A&M.

  • South Carolina ran through red zone drills during the later portion of the open session. Second-year receiver Zavier Short made a slick one-handed catch in the back left corner of the end zone. Classmate Kylic Horton also made a nice catch in the same corner over the top of a defensive back.

  • The Gamecocks trotted out a first skill position group of Antwane “Juice” Wells Jr., Ahmarean Brown, tight end Trey Knox and Legette on Thursday. Wells finished second in the Southeastern Conference in receiving last year with 928 yards and six touchdowns.

  • The second skill position group included tight end Joshua Simon and receivers O’Mega Blake, Eddie Lewis and Landon Samson. Lewis, a transfer from Memphis, has received wide praise from teammates and coaches during the spring. Brown said on Wednesday that Lewis’ skillset reminded him of ex-Gamecock Josh Vann.

  • Camden High School’s football team visited South Carolina’s practice on Thursday. The Gamecocks currently have three former Camden players on the roster in four-star freshman defensive lineman Xzavier McLeod, walk-on defensive back Joseph Byrnes and walk-on receiver Joseph Morris.