South Carolina football: Cam Smith named one of SEC’s rising stars

South Carolina football player considered one of SEC’s rising stars.

The 2021 spring season is about to kick into full effect, meaning the South Carolina football team will soon begin its first spring practice session under new head coach Shane Beamer. With the signing period finally wrapped up, and a coaching staff in place, the Gamecocks can focus on the upcoming season.

That focus will turn to key players, position battles, and the implementation of both a new offensive and defensive scheme. Spring practice will be the first time that coaches can see their players perform live in person, as they look to decipher which members on the roster will make the greatest impacts.

One of those roster members has recently been named as a rising star among the SEC’s top performers.

Brad Crawford of 247 Sports released a list of players that are looking to climb the ladder and make a major impact in the 2021 season. He named sophomore cornerback Cam Smith as a player on the Gamecocks’ roster that will jump into a starting spot and make significant contributions.

The former four-star recruit has long been considered a talented player, as 247 Sports tabbed him as the nation’s 150th ranked prospect in the class of 2019. But for the last two seasons, he’s been positioned behind projected first-round selection Jaycee Horn.

Smith got off to a rough start in the 2020 season, having a punt roll up his leg while blocking, resulting in a game-sealing turnover during a 31-27 season opening loss to Tennessee.

He bounced back, though, and came on strong in the second half of the year, replacing NFL opt-outs Horn and Israel Mukuamu in the defensive backfield. On the season, Smith broke up two passes and tallied a pair of interceptions (tied-1st on the team).

Here’s what Crawford had to say about Smith’s future in the South Carolina secondary.

The pick: Cam Smith, DB; This versatile player in the secondary for the Gamecocks is a third-year sophomore and got much-needed experience last season in coverage. With Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu off to the NFL along with Jammie Robinson’s transfer to Florida State, South Carolina’s depth at the back end is razor-thin and leaders are needed. Insert Smith into that role, a player coaches are extremely high on.

Smith is likely penciled into a starting role on the outside for the 2021 opener, and he’s widely considered the best prospect in a South Carolina defensive backfield that lost four starters from a season ago. Look for him to make a major jump in the upcoming year as the Gamecocks attempt to shore up a pass defense that ranked eighth in the conference last season.