South Carolina Football: 4-star DT, South Carolina Mr. Football, no longer with program

South Carolina football. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
South Carolina football. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

They say that “when it rains, it pours.” Right now, it feels that way for South Carolina football fans.

The Gamecocks are struggling in a mighty way in 2023, and injuries have left the offensive line and wide receiver groups extremely thin. Lack of production has plagued most of the defense, as well, and nothing seems to be going the way of the garnet and black this season as even the mighty Gamecock special teams units have not been great this fall.

On Wednesday, USC took another body blow. This time, though, it was one that will have a larger effect on the future than the present.

Per announcements from TheBigSpur’s Hale McGranahan and GamecockCentral’s Wes Mitchell, true freshman Xzavier McLeod is no longer with the South Carolina football team.

No further details have been announced about McLeod’s departure from the program, but it is worth noting that a seemingly agitated Shane Beamer called McLeod’s absence from the travel roster this past weekend against Missouri a “coaching decision.” Less than a week later, big #64 is no longer a Gamecock.

Defensive tackle is currently manned primarily by a three-man rotation of Tonka Hemingway, TJ Sanders, and Boogie Huntley. Hemingway and Huntley are seniors, and Sanders has generated some mild NFL buzz with his strong play this year.

The two elder tackles could return next year by utilizing their “Covid redshirt” seasons, but, right now, there has been no word on the future plans for any of those players.

Already a position that has not played up to expectations in 2023, the loss of McLeod hurts the Gamecocks in a big way moving forward. Potentially the most talented defensive lineman on the team other than Sanders, McLeod would have been a candidate for big playing time next year.

As of now, the Gamecocks have no defensive tackles committed in the class of 2024.

McLeod was a high 4-star prospect who won the state of South Carolina’s Mr. Football award last season. He had played sparingly this season but was believed to be a major part of the Gamecocks’ future up front on defense. His biggest play so far in Columbia was a tipped-ball interception that he pulled down against Furman.

The McLeod-less South Carolina football squad will travel to College Station this Saturday to take on the Texas A&M Aggies at 12:00 on the SECNetwork and ESPN app.

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