South Carolina football: running backs need to step up in Marshawn Lloyd’s absence

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 team is looking for production in its running back room.

Just over a week ago, the South Carolina football program learned that freshman sensation MarShawn Lloyd would miss the upcoming season after suffering a knee injury in the Gamecocks’ first fall practice. The ACL tear was a non-contact injury, and has left the team wondering which of the remaining running backs will step up in Lloyd’s absence.

There are four options, but the position group remains largely unproven, at least to Gamecock fans. ZaQuandre White may be the most talented. He earned JUCO All-America honors last year with Iowa Western, running for 109 yards per game, but he’s yet to play a down for the Gamecocks. He’s also behind the eight ball a bit, as he didn’t get to campus until August, and must battle for the starting role while also learning a new playbook.

Freshman Rashad Amos has received some praise from head coach Will Muschamp, and he’ll need to be ready to jump into the rotation and compete in his first year in Columbia. Amos was considered the 39th best tailback in the country coming out of Sandy Creek High School in Georgia. Here’s what coach Muschamp said about Amos’ talents following the latest scrimmage.

"“Rashad Amos had a couple of nice runs. For a young guy, he can really see the inside zone well, in my opinion. … He makes nice cuts. He gets north and south, but he’s got to hang on to the football. He let it loose a couple of times. We won’t tolerate it. He won’t play, if he turns it over.”"

To round out the competition, there are two returning candidates battling to take over the starting role. Those are sophomores Kevin Harris and Deshaun Fenwick. Fenwick caught the attention of new offensive coordinator Mike Bobo early in the spring. He’s a hard-nosed runner that likes to get up the field. He’s been productive when called upon, recording 100-yard outings in each of his two career starts.

Harris burst onto the scene last year as a true freshman, rushing six times for 147 yards and three touchdowns in South Carolina’s matchup versus Charleston Southern. He was slowed a bit by injuries after that, but did receive carries in five of the Gamecocks’ 12 games.

It will be interesting to watch this position battle play out, as Lloyd was expected by many to assume the starting role immediately upon stepping foot on campus. There is certainly talent, but as mentioned previously, it’s largely unproven. This battle is one that will likely remain undecided up until the week of the season opener. Gamecock fans will have to wait and see who rises to the top when September 26th rolls around.