South Carolina football: Athlon names preseason all-conference teams

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) /

South Carolina football had 5 players named preseason All-SEC.

The South Carolina football season will be here before we know it, with an opening matchup set for September 4th against Eastern Illinois. Shane Beamer is still figuring out the team’s key contributors in his first year as head coach, but it appears he’s got some talent on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

Athlon Sports recently unveiled its 2021 All-SEC predictions, and five Gamecocks earned the preseason honors. Of the five, two players landed on the first team, projected to be the top performers at their particular position.

The five players selected tied Tennessee and Missouri for the 10th-most players chosen in the league. Georgia and Alabama led the way with 15 players each. Vanderbilt had the fewest selections with three.

Athlon named Kevin Harris as the first-team running back and Kingsley “JJ” Enagbare as the a first-team defensive lineman. Tight end Nick Muse landed on the third team, while Zacch Pickens and Dylan Wonnum were fourth-team selections.

Harris rushed for 1,138 yards last season, totaling 15 touchdowns on the ground and a 6.2 yard per carry average. The rising junior added 21 catches, and is sure to be a focal point on the South Carolina offense.

Enagbare has seen his name pop up in NFL mock drafts over the offseason, as well as being considered one of the nation’s top three pass rushers heading into the ’21 campaign. He returns to Columbia for his senior year after leading the team in sacks a season ago.

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Nick Muse was the team’s second-leading receiver in 2021, hauling in 30 receptions for 425 yards and a score. He was one of quarterback Luke Doty’s favorite targets towards the end of last season, and projects to be a key member of the passing attack moving forward.

Dylan Wonnum is also back for one final year, after making 24 starts in his first three seasons. The offensive tackle was an all-conference selection as a freshman, and is looking to cap his collegiate career with another big season.

Zacch Pickens should anchor a productive South Carolina defensive line. He’s been a starter up front for each of the past two seasons, earning All-SEC honors in year one. Last year, he tallied 35 takedowns, a sack, and 2.5 tackles for loss. Look for him to build on those numbers as a junior, and continue to build his NFL Draft stock.

Each of these five players will be integral in the success of South Carolina’s season. It’s encouraging to see folks taking note of players on both the offensive and defensive units, and should give fans some hope for the future.

What to make of the preseason projections. 

There are some things to take from this list. First, it appears as though the offense has more weapons than initially thought. Harris was an obvious selection after his 1,000-yard season in 2021, but the first-team honor is major. The SEC has a handful of talented tailbacks, including Isaiah Spiller, Tank Bigsby, Jerrion Ealy, Zamir White, and Brian Robinson. Being chosen as the cream of the crop is a huge compliment.

Seeing Muse and Wonnum on the list was encouraging. Wonnum has been a stalwart up front for the Gamecocks his entire career, and he’ll be tasked with both opening up holes for South Carolina rushers, and protecting signal caller Luke Doty. He’ll lead an experienced offensive line crew that could help the offense surprise next year.

Muse really came on towards the end of last season, and we’re hoping he picks up right where he left off. The senior tallied 14 catches and 198 yards over his final two games, and will be a huge asset for his young quarterback. Having a reliable weapon in the passing attack will go a long way in helping the Gamecock offense produce.

On defense, it’s obvious that the front four will be a strength. Enagbare and Pickens are primed for big seasons, and the Gamecocks are hoping the pass rush will help mask some of the team’s deficiencies on the backend. The team is thin in the secondary, so pressuring opposing quarterbacks will be a must.

South Carolina hopes these picks come to fruition, and more, as the program looks to sneak up on folks around the SEC.

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