Five observations from South Carolina’s new 2021 spring football roster

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Greg Hadley
·4 min read
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Shane Beamer’s been on the job as South Carolina football’s new head coach for a few months now. On Tuesday, we got our first official look at who he’s working with, as the Gamecocks released a full spring roster.

Virtually all of the biggest roster moves have been known for a while now — players announced they were transferring in and out, recruits officially signed on. But there are still some tidbits of information to be gleaned from this new list of 99 players — here are some of the biggest.

1. Opt-outs returning

Three Gamecocks opted out before the start of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic — wide receivers OrTre Smith and Randrecous Davis and offensive lineman Mark Fox. Later on in the year, defensive back R.J. Roderick did so as well following the firing of coach Will Muschamp.

In several cases we’ve seen over the past year, opt-outs have been precursors to eventual transfers or departures from the program. But in the case of Smith, Davis, Fox and Roderick, they’re all back on the spring roster, and their return is likely welcomed by Beamer — he pointed to wide receiver and defensive back as two big positions of need this past offseason.

2. Weight changes

Redshirt senior offensive lineman Jordan Rhodes was already big this past fall, checking in at an official weight of 325 pounds. But he’s gotten even bigger going into spring ball, listed at 340 pounds on the new roster. That ties him for the biggest on the team with junior OL Jazston Turnetine, who’s up from 330 pounds on last year’s roster.

Elsewhere, running back MarShawn Lloyd arrived on campus last spring expected to make a big impact for USC, before he went down for the season with a torn ACL. He’s working his way back, though, and has added a little extra size to his 5-foot-9 frame, going from 210 pounds to 215.

Wide receiver Jalen Brooks, who transferred in from Wingate and Tarleton State and was relied upon as one of the top options in the passing game, has gone from 190 to 200.

On the flip side, a few key players have lost a little weight — former five-star prospect Jordan Burch has slimmed down from 275 pounds to 270, and quarterback Luke Doty went from 210 to 204.

3. Position watch

Late last season, as injuries, opt-outs and COVID-19 took their toll, South Carolina interim coach Mike Bobo was forced to move ZaQuandre White from tailback to safety, Jordan Rhodes from offensive line to defensive tackle and Eric Shaw from tight end to linebacker.

It appears those changes won’t become permanent — White, Rhodes and Shaw were all listed back at their original positions on the 2021 roster.

4. Position name change

“BUCK” is out. “EDGE” is in.

In Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson’s old system, Buck was a hybrid linebacker/defensive end role, expected to rush the passer but be versatile enough to mix up the defense.

Under new defensive coordinator Clayton White, that position designation is gone. Instead, the new position group is called the Edge group. That includes players who used to be Bucks like Kingsley Enegbare, Jordan Burch, Rodricus Fitten and Gilber Edmond, but it also includes players who used to be classified simply as defensive lineman like Aaron Sterling and Tonka Hemingway, guys that played as defensive ends.

The new Edge position also includes transfer Jordan Strachan, an indication of how key pass rushing will likely be to this new group. In contrast, former Buck Brad Johnson has been moved to linebacker.

5. New numbers

With a host of newcomers joining the roster via transfer or signing and several departures, there will be a lot of new numbers for South Carolina fans to put to names and track this spring. For example, #15 is no longer quarterback Collin Hill, who moved on this offseason. Instead, transfer QB Jason Brown will sport that jersey.

Brown’s high school and college teammate, wide receiver EJ Jenkins, will also inherit a jersey number, taking No. 13 from the graduated wideout Shi Smith.

Freshman wide receiver Sam Reynolds will take over No. 3 from transferred QB Ryan Hilinski, and rookie QB Colten Gauthier will get No. 10 from fellow signal caller Jay Urich, who chose to medically retire last season.

Fellow transfers Ahmarean Brown (WR) and Jordan Strachan (EDGE) will share No. 7.