South Carolina football: 3 questions at the wide receiver position

Shi Smith #13 of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)
Shi Smith #13 of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Silas Walker/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 look at an unproven wide receiver room.

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 the 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 facing the South Carolina wide receivers’ room.


Edwards left the South Carolina program as the school’s all-time leading receiver. He caught 234 passes over his four-year career, which ranks 3rd most ever among SEC players. How will the Gamecocks replace the record-setting wideout?

The first option will be senior Shi Smith. He’s been a productive player over his first three seasons, but is he ready to shoulder the load of being Ryan Hilinski’s top option?

Smith has cracked the 400-yard mark in each of his years on campus, with a career-best 673 receiving yards as a sophomore. He’s the most sure-handed receiver on the team, and will be expected to step up as a leader in the Carolina offense.


The Gamecocks’ only known commodity at the position thus far is Shi Smith. But he can’t do it all. Who can South Carolina count on to take some of the attention away from the speedy senior, and turn in a productive 2020 campaign?

There are options. Junior OrTre Smith had a stellar freshman season, catching 30 passes and becoming a big bodied presence in the red zone. Unfortunately, injuries have slowed his progression, but he’ll certainly get a chance to prove his worth.

Josh Vann recorded 19 catches and 171 yards over nine games as a sophomore. More will be expected in his junior season.

Freshman Xavier Legette saw a lot of action late in the year for the Gamecocks, hauling in nine passes for 80 yards and a score. Can he take the next step?

Dreak Davis has been on the Carolina campus for four seasons, and, when healthy, has shown great hands and an ability to create separation. But, he too, has been slowed by injuries, which have held him to making just 12 career receptions.

And, finally, there are the wildcards. Dakereon Joyner is back in the receiver room after being forced to play some quarterback last season due to injuries. He caught six passes a year ago. Then, there are three talented freshmen coming to campus in Ger-Cari Caldwell, Rico Powers, and Mike Wyman. Will any of the newcomers make an immediate impact?

It will be interesting to see who emerges as the front runner at the No. 2 spot, and how everyone fits into offensive coordinator Mike Bobo’s new scheme.


Joe Cox was brought onto the offensive coaching staff with the addition of new coordinator Mike Bobo. The up-and-coming coach has been with the Colorado State Rams for the last five seasons.

He takes over an unproven Gamecock wide receiver room with a ton of youth. How will players progress under his tutelage?

While with the Rams, Cox oversaw both the receivers and the tight ends. Last year, two of his wideouts recorded at least 800 yards in junior Warren Jackson and freshman Dante Wright. Jackson finished 4th nationally in receiving yards per game, earning first-team all-MWC honors. Rams tight end Trey McBride also received first-team all-conference recognition, and the Colorado State passing offense finished the year ranked 14th in the country.

Can a Gamecock group that ranked 74th in passing a season ago see the same transformation with Cox at the helm? South Carolina desperately needs this inexperienced group to step up in 2020.

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