With Mike Davis Turning Pro, What’s Next For Gamecocks?


Thursday in Louisiana, Mike Davis said what most people thought was possible already – that he was going to leave South Carolina and forgo his senior season to enter the NFL draft.  Even though the announcement was somewhat expected, it does beg the question of what is next for the Gamecocks running game considering Davis was the leading rusher the past two seasons.  Davis had over 2,000 yards rushing and 20 TDs along with another 700 yards receiving to add to it.  He was a huge threat, at least when he was healthy, and the team relied on him to balance the offense.  So is this a bigger deal for the Gamecocks offense or for Mike Davis?

Well as good as Davis was, he still didn’t represent 50% of the Gamecocks total rushing yards, and there were many times the backfield seemed fairly crowded, with almost too much talent for enough carries to go around for all the talent.  Junior Brandon Wilds has almost 600 yards rushing this year, including more than 170 yards from scrimmage against Tennessee.  There were many times when fans, and possibly even Wilds, felt like he had done enough to deserve a starting spot.  At 6-2 and 222 lbs, Wilds is a big back who pounds the hole hard, but also has shown good explosiveness.  Wilds was the go-to back three years ago after a season ending injury to Marcus Lattimore and immediately made a name for himself.  Unfortunately, a high ankle sprain in the next year meant he had to sit out and had a redshirt season.  He definitely seems like an experienced back who could handle the load for the Gamecocks game in and game out.

Next up is freshman David Williams, who burst onto the scene, starting with the spring game, and quickly gaining fans with his running style.  His speed was obvious every time he touched the ball, but he also seemed to be able to pound it up the middle.  Although he only has 256 yards this season, more than 100 of it came in the game against Furman.  Williams had almost 2,000 yards rushing as a senior in high school in Philadelphia and most fans who watched him this past season could see why he was so successful.  Williams will be a sophomore next year and could easily be an impact player on the offense, especially if he gets involved in the receiving game out of the backfield as well.

Even with these two strong backs, you still can’t forget about Shon Carson.  Shon has spent much of this year primarily returning kickoffs, with only 140 yards rushing.  At 5’8″ and 201, Carson is the smallest of the back but also one of the fastest.  Although Carson hasn’t seemed to have the success people expected, the talent is still there.  Keep in mind he was one of only three backs in South Carolina history to score more than 100 touchdowns in high school, the other two being Marcus Lattimore and Demetrius Summers.  He rushed for more than 2,200 yards his senior season at Lake City, and coaches are trying to find a way to unleash that speed and power again.

With as much pure talent as Mike Davis has, there was a lot of inconsistency this past year, whether it was injuries, fumbles, or just lack of production some games.  Any team hates to lose someone with that kind of talent, but with even just Wilds, Williams, and Carson the Gamecocks have a ton of talent, and maybe once given the support and more carries, they’ll not only fill the void left by Davis, but make the running game even better next season.