South Carolina football: top 3 receivers in program history

The South Carolina football program has a history of producing great wide receivers. Which are the school’s best?

South Carolina has produced some fantastic wideouts over its 112-year history, many of which have gone on to successful professional careers.

Which receivers are the school’s best, though? Here, we’ll name the top three pass catchers to ever play for the Gamecocks.

First, though, let’s go through some players that just missed the cut. Here are the honorable mentions.

  • Robert Brooks – caught 156 passes and 19 TDs over his four-year career.
  • Pharoh Cooper – holds program record for receiving yards in a game (233). Scored 22 total TDs over three-year career.
  • Zola Davis – ranks fifth all-time in catches (164) and yards (2,354).
  • Bryan Edwards – school leader in receiving yards (3,045). Ranks third in SEC history in career catches (234).
  • Bruce Ellington – caught 16 TDs over three-year football career.
  • Jermale Kelly – top 10 in both catches (153) and yards (2,179).
  • Kenny McKinley – second all-time with 207 career receptions.
  • Deebo Samuel – holds two of the top 10 single game receiving outputs. Scored 23 career TDs from scrimmage.
  • Troy Williamson – first round pick that averaged 19.3 yds per catch over three-year career.

Now, to the top three.

 

3. STERLING SHARPE

Sharpe was an All-American that played from ’83-’87. He ranks fourth in program history in both catches (169) and receiving yards (2,497).

Over the final two seasons of his career, he caught 136 passes for a total of 2,021 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’d also add another five scores on the ground.

Sharpe’s junior season was the best of his career, as he finished in the top five nationally in catches, yards, and touchdowns. It also represented the first time the Gamecocks had ever had a receiver top the 1,000-yd mark. It was one of the best seasons to be recorded by a pass catcher in program history.

Sharpe would graduate as the school’s all-time leading receiver, a record that would later be broken. A mark not yet broken is his 104-yd kick return touchdown in ’85 that still stands as the longest play in program history.

Sharpe was a game changer any time he had the ball in his hands. Had he played in today’s modern passing era, there’s a good chance he would’ve ranked No. 1 on this list.

2. SIDNEY RICE

Rice, too, could’ve had a chance to top this list, had he played for longer than two seasons. Still, the former Gamecock wideout holds the records for career touchdown receptions (23), touchdown catches in a season (13), and touchdowns caught in a single game (5).

Rice broke out as a redshirt freshman in 2005, making his presence known in his very first appearance, where he recorded 70 yards on five catches against Georgia. From that point on, he’d total at least 50 yards in every game, including breaking the century mark in six of his final seven contests.

That year, he totaled 1,143 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns, on his way to All-SEC honors. He caught at least one score in each of the first eight games, and led the conference in receiving.

His second season was much of the same, as he recorded back-to-back 1,000-yd campaigns. He finished with 72 catches, good for third in the conference, before deciding to move on to the NFL. Despite his short stay in Columbia, Rice ranks among the top 10 Gamecocks in both receptions and yards.

1. ALSHON JEFFERY

Jeffery was the program’s all-time leading receiver up until this past season, when Bryan Edwards surpassed his career mark of 3,042 by just three yards. Jeffery, however, accomplished the feat in just three seasons.

The Calhoun County native is tied with Sidney Rice for most touchdown catches in a career (23) and put up the best single season performance ever seen by a Gamecock receiver. In 2010, Jeffery caught a program record 88 passes for an SEC-leading 1,517 yards and nine touchdowns.

That single-season receiving mark is over 300 yards more than the next closest Gamecock, and helped Jeffery earn All-America honors as a sophomore.

Jeffery would total at least 760 yards in both his freshman and junior years, before moving on to the NFL.