Luke Doty or Jason Brown? The QB conversation is one that fans will undoubtedly be having all off-season long before the Gamecocks put toe to leather on September 4th against Eastern Illinois.
However, the question you need to be asking yourself is this: WHO is going to be catching the football and be the primary target for either of these guys this season?
Even with a lack of stellar football tradition, South Carolina has always seemed to produce elite talent at the wide receiver position.
Jeffery, Sharpe, Edwards, Samuel, Brooks, Rice, Sanders, Ellington, Coooper, Scott, McKinley, etc. are just a few of the names that come to minds of former great pass catchers in the garnet and black.
Don’t look now, but for first time since arugably 2016, the Gamecocks enter a season with absolutely no clue who their number one option is at the wide receiver position.
Today, I break down a few of the top candidates to emerge as that #1 guy and become the next great wideout to come through Columbia.
If you’re asking me right now, gun to head, who WR1 will be for South Carolina will be this fall, I think Ahmarean Brown is your guy.
With a smaller build at 5’9, the speedster tied a freshman record at Georgia Tech with 7 receiving touchdowns in 2019.
The guy whose record he tied? None other than some guy named Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. Not bad company, eh?
Brown’s athleticism and speed will provide a jolt to a wide receiver room desperately looking for athleticism and big play ability.
When I watch Brown’s tape, I get nostalgic vibes of Ace Sanders in a Gamecocks uniform.
Am I saying Brown will live up to that kind of hype? No. However, I certainly think he’s got a really good shot to be the top target on the outside this fall.
The biggest question I have with E.J. Jenkins has nothing to do with his ability or God given size. I’m just curious what position the 6’7 freakish athlete will line up at this fall.
Talking to those around the program, it sounds like Jenkins will most likely be battling for time at tight end. However, we saw Jenkins split out wide in the spring game and after his performance, it wouldn’t shock me at all to see him get plenty of opportunities split out wide as well.
Obviously, the measurable are what stand out here. Simply put, how the hell do defenses cover a guy that should probably be playing for Frank Martin and the Gamecocks basketball team?
Jenkins showed off that size and ball skills in the spring game, where he hauled in two touchdowns over a wimpy Carolina defensive back.
He has the tools to be a big time wideout for the Gamecocks and at minimum, should be one of the best red zone threats in the SEC this season.
Is there anyone Gamecock fans are pulling harder for than Dakereon Joyner?
In an era where players are transferring and changing schools at the first sign of lack of playing time, Joyner has been as selfless and as much of a “team first” guy as any you’ll find in college football.
Dak’s career has certainly felt like a roller coaster at times, with changing positions, rumors of transferring, people thinking he should transfer (yours truly) and now fighting for a spot in the receiver rotation.
We saw last year just what Dak Joyner can do when the football is in his hands. Safe to say, he did not disappoint.
Simply put, Dak Joyner has a skill set that needs to be used in some form or fashion in this Gamecocks offense. He’s simply too athletic to have riding the pine all season long.
We saw flashes from DK in the spring game, as he looked as comfortable at the receiver position as he has during his entire career.
Could that lead to him being the top target at wide receiver for South Carolina this fall?
Believe it or not, I picked Xavier Legette to be my “breakout player” for the 2020 season and man, did he make me look foolish.
Legette finished the 2020 season with just 7 catches for 113 yards and 0 touchdowns. In all fairness, Legette did battle injury throughout the season, especially towards the end of the year.
Still, Legette falls in the category of “guys” on this USC roster that seem to have all of the talent in the world, have flashed at times but, for whatever reason, just haven’t been able to put it all together.
We saw promise from XL as a true freshman in 2019, when he hauled in 9 catches for 80 yards and a touchdown.
Legette’s mix of speed and size could make him a nice threat on the outside. However, he’ll have to show more consistency and find a way to stay on the field to have a chance to be the go-to guy.
I’m sure a lot of you have gotten to this point in the article and are saying to yourselves “BUT CHRIS, WHAT ABOUT ORTRE/VANN/BROOKS/ETC.?!”
Fair or not, I put all of those guys in their own separate category. Do all of them have talent? Yes. Should they be much better players than they have been since they stepped on campus? Yes.
But for a multitude of reasons that include injuries, scheme, coaching changes, lack of development or simply not living up to expectations, those guys haven’t panned out.
Until a guy like OrTre Smith shows he can actually be healthy for a full season or Josh Vann proves he can actually catch the football and isn’t a total bust, I can’t take those guys seriously as real threats to challenge for the WR1 role.
Then you look at a guy like Jalen Brooks. Look, I gave this kid HELL when he was first brought on by Muschamp. By all accounts, he’s a great kid and has been a nice addition to the program.
But is he really WR1 caliber in the SEC, the best conference in all of college football? With all due respect, I HIGHLY doubt it.
And then there’s your young guys. Dudes like Mike Wyman, Rico Powers, Ger-Cari Caldwell, Sam Reynolds, etc.
These are the wildcards and guys I’m really excited to see learn and develop under new wide receivers coach Justin Stepp.
Overall, there are plenty of options and tons of GUYS in this room that will be fighting for that WR1 role come this fall.
Which DUDES step up and become true threats for this Gamecocks offense? Only time will tell.