Will South Carolina go after a quarterback in transfer portal, or stick with QB options?

As we wait for the official announcement that Spencer Rattler will declare for the NFL Draft, the trend that Rattler helped perpetuate years ago rages on across college football.

Two years after Rattler — the former No. 1 quarterback recruit in America — chose to leave Oklahoma, enter the transfer portal and team up with Shane Beamer at South Carolina, a number of big-name starting quarterbacks have already gone portaling.

The transfer portal doesn’t even officially open until Monday, Dec. 4. If a team’s coach is fired or departs, every rostered player can enter immediately — and it’s already flooded.

Among the quarterbacks who have already entered — or announced they plan on submitting their name — are: Mississippi State starter Will Rogers, Miami starter Tyler Van Dyke, Kansas State starter Will Howard, Michigan State starter Katin Houser, Wake Forest starter Mitch Griffis, Vanderbilt’s Ken Seals and Texas A&M’s Max Johnson.

And Johnson is an interesting one. Like was the case with Rattler — who was at Oklahoma while Beamer was the assistant head coach — there is a connection. While with the Sooners, Beamer was the lead recruiter trying to bring Johnson’s younger brother, Jake, to Norman.

Before South Carolina faced Johnson and Texas A&M earlier this season, Beamer made sure to mention how much he loves and respects the Johnson family, later mentioning that he’s played golf with Johnson’s dad, former NFL QB Brad Johnson.

“Really impressed with Max and what he’s doing,” Beamer said in October. “He’s not a backup quarterback who’s playing for them. He was a starting quarterback at LSU.”

What will South Carolina do?

The question is, with Rattler likely leaving, would Beamer look at adding another quarterback through the portal?

If Rattler does indeed leave, the Gamecocks’ quarterback room would be severely lacking experience.

Perhaps Luke Doty could fully transition back to quarterback after playing wide receiver in 2023. He does have experience starting at quarterback under Beamer, completing 60% of his passes for nearly 1,000 yards and five touchdowns two seasons ago.

South Carolina quarterback Luke Doty (9) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the first half of South Carolina’s game against Clemson at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia on Saturday, November 25, 2023.
South Carolina quarterback Luke Doty (9) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the first half of South Carolina’s game against Clemson at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia on Saturday, November 25, 2023.

But when it was time for the Gamecocks to insert a backup quarterback this season, Beamer threw in true freshman LaNorris Sellers. If nothing else, the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Sellers is entertaining. In limited action this season, Sellers was a highlight reel, throwing maybe the prettiest touchdown of the season against Furman then keeping the ball on an option against Vanderbilt and running 36 yards into the end zone.

“He’s a weapon,” Beamer said after the Vandy victory. “I think it goes back to how he prepares and how he practices. I’m in those quarterback meetings every day and (offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains) coaches LaNorris in those meetings and holds him accountable like he’s Spencer Rattler.”

The wild card is commitment Dante Reno, who is expected to sign with South Carolina on the first day of the early signing period (Dec. 20) before enrolling at USC on Jan. 7. The four-star prospect — and son of Yale head coach Tony Reno — threw for nearly 2,400 yards and 20 touchdowns during his season campaign at Cheshire Academy.

The Gamecocks have two other guys currently in their quarterback room — former four-star recruits Colten Gauthier and Tanner Bailey, both of whom were behind Rattler, Doty and Sellers this past season. Gauthier, a redshirt sophomore, has thrown two passes in his career while Bailey, a redshirt freshman, has yet to appear in a game.

The odds-on-favorite to start next season has to be Sellers. The South Florence alum has enough potential to fill a warehouse, but coaches can get fired buying too much into potential.

The question of the offseason becomes: Do Beamer and Loggains trust Sellers to take the reins next season or would they feel more secure bringing in a grad transfer to, at worst, compete for the job and expand their options?