South Carolina football: Offensive position battles to watch during fall camp

Ryan Hilinski #3 of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Ryan Hilinski #3 of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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Shi Smith #13 of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /


Shi Smith has the No. 1 spot locked up, but not much is certain beyond that point. There are bodies, but much of the roster is unproven and inexperienced. The battle for the starting second and third spots will be decided between returning pass catchers Dakereon Joyner, OrTre Smith, Randrecous Davis, Xavier Legette, and Josh Vann, as well as a few newcomers.

Joyner comes back to the wide receiver room full time after splitting duties at quarterback and receiver in 2019. He’s a playmaker with the ball in his hands, but hasn’t gotten the opportunity to prove it on the field. The North Charleston native backed up the oft injured Ryan Hilinski, seeing significant action in games against Missouri and Georgia. Still, he managed to catch six passes and rush for over 100 yards for the season despite being on double duty. He’s a weapon that could be lined up in a number of spots across the offense next year.

OrTre Smith may have the most potential of the group, and he played in some meaningful matchups over his freshman year. That first season on campus, Smith recorded 30 catches and 326 yards. He also found the endzone on three different occasions. Injuries derailed his sophomore season, and seemed to linger a bit last year. Now, the redshirt junior is healthy and looking to make an impact on the Carolina offense.

Davis is also a player that’s been productive when on the field, but who can’t seem to overcome the injury bug. In four seasons on campus, he’s made just 12 catches. He has been able to crack the starting lineup on a couple of different occasions, but unfortunately, has suffered season-ending injuries three different times. Davis missed all of 2019 with an ankle sprain. He’s been sure-handed when called upon, so the Gamecocks will hope the Georgia native can stay healthy in his final year of eligibility.

Legette saw his first SEC action as a freshman last year, hauling in nine catches and his first career touchdown. He made starts in three games, and should play a large role in the receiver rotation as a sophomore. He may also be called upon in the return game.

Vann is a player that the coaching staff is hoping they’ll get more of this year. The rising junior has appeared in 22 games, making 37 catches for 289 yards. He played better in 2019 but suffered a broken hand in a game against Vanderbilt. He’s hoping to jump back into the rotation this fall.

There are also a few newcomers that could make an impact. The recruiting class brough in three four-star prospects in Mike Wyman, Rico Powers, and Ger-Cari Caldwell. Of the group, Powers has received the most praise from the coaching staff. Will Muschamp is on record saying that the true freshman will play this year.

There’s also one player that recently joined the Carolina receiving corps, but his impact is still unknown at the moment. Jalen Brooks joined the Gamecock roster in August following a two-year career with Wingate University. Last year, he pulled in 35 passes for 751 yards, an average of 21.5 yards per catch. The all-conference selection recorded a trio of 100-yard performances. He’s hoping that the NCAA will approve his request for immediate eligibility.

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