South Carolina football: 3 questions at running back

Running back Kevin Harris #20 of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
Running back Kevin Harris #20 of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images) /

The South Carolina football season is getting closer, and there are questions and battles at each position ahead of the season’s start. Let’s take a quick look at the running backs.

The Gamecocks’ football opener is set for September 5th, though that is certainly subject to change as universities and conferences adjust to the Coronavirus pandemic. With that being said, there is hope that the season will take place in the fall.

As there is uncertainty with college football’s future, there’s also uncertainty among the Gamecocks’ offensive and defensive units. Assuming that hope of a fall start comes to fruition, South Carolina will have just a bit longer to answer unknown questions, sort through position battles, and get prepared for game one.

Let’s look at three questions that face the South Carolina running back room.


South Carolina lost three senior tailbacks from a year ago in Tavien Feaster, Rico Dowdle, and Mon Denson. The three accounted for 3,655 career yards as Gamecocks, and were the team’s top three rushers in 2019.

In just one season, the running back room has gone from the squad’s most experienced group to a relative unknown. Deshaun Fenwick and Kevin Harris return as sophomores after both recording 100-yd games a season ago, however, together they’ve combined for just two starts and around 400 total yards.

The Gamecocks also add three new faces to the position in ZaQuandre White, MarShawn Lloyd, and Rashad Amos. Lloyd was the 43rd best player in the country coming out of high school last year, according to 247Sports. He’s received early praise from the coaching staff since his arrival to Columbia in January.

Amos, a three-star recruit, was ranked as the nation’s 72nd best back after graduating from Sandy Creek High in Georgia, while White was seen as the top rated JUCO running back. White has just been cleared to join the Gamecock team.

There is certainly talent, but not much of it has seen the field in an SEC setting. Those five backs will attempt to match and eclipse the production of last year’s bunch. Carolina ranked 82nd nationally in rushing offense in 2019.


Des Kitchings was hired to take over in the Gamecock running back room following the departure of coach Thomas Brown, who’s off to the NFL. Kitchings has spent the last eight seasons at North Carolina State, where he produced three 1,000-yard rushers.

He now takes over a position group that’s full of both talent and inexperience. Kitchings has a track record of developing young players, as noted by his tutelage of Wolpack backs Matthew Dayes, Nyheim Hines, and Reggie Gallaspy, Jr., as well as former Vanderbilt Commodores Zac Staley and Warren Norman.

He will now have a chance to oversee the progress of five fresh faces in hopes of producing yet another 1,000-yd rusher. The Gamecocks have not had a back hit the mark since Mike Davis ran for 1,183 yards back in 2013.


There has been speculation about who will be the Gamecock starter since the season ended. There are five backs that will battle for carries, in Fenwick, Harris, Lloyd, White, and Amos.

Fenwick has the most returning experience, recording 100-yd performances in his only two college starts. One of those came against Vanderbilt, and the other against Chattanooga. He’s also received some positive feedback from new offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.

Harris broke out early last year with a 147-yd game versus Charleston Southern, before being slowed with a groin injury. He also saw action against Vanderbilt, App State, Texas A&M, and Clemson. Both backs may find that the new offensive system fits their running style, as Harris and Fenwick are big bodied, downhill runners, suited for an I-formation scheme.

Lloyd comes in as a freshman with a ton of hype. Many around the program believe that he’ll get the first opportunity this fall, and they may be right. The rookie is the program’s highest rated running back signee since Marcus Lattimore, and fans and coaches alike are hoping for the same immediate impact.

White will also be squarely in the mix, after a breakout JUCO season. His versatility could allow for the Gamecocks to line him up at tailback or in the slot. He’ll also have a chance to make an impact on special teams.

Amos may be the lone man out, and could be headed for a redshirt year should the backfield not be decimated with injuries.

It will be fun to watch the players battle through the offseason, and we’ll soon get an indication on who emerges as the starter.

Next. 3 questions at QB. dark