South Carolina football fans have to be pretty satisfied with how things went for the Gamecocks on the first day of the Early Signing Day (let's face it: it's the new National Signing Day). Carolina signed 15 high school prospects (8 who will play in national All-American games), 1 junior college product, and 9 players from the transfer portal.
After the first week of the transfer portal being open, the Gamecocks had some glaring holes on the roster.
One of the most obvious holes on the team was the running back position. Already a weak point during the 2023 season, the running back room lost starter Mario Anderson to the portal and 6th-year Swiss army knife DK Joyner to graduation. With senior scatback Juju McDowell and rising sophomore Djay Braswell as the only two scholarship backs returning to the roster in 2024, help was needed.
The wide receiver position was bad this past season outside of the exceptional season from Xavier Legette. Legette, Ahmarean Brown, and Eddie Lewis are all out of eligibility, and five receivers have left the program through the transfer portal (Juice Wells, O'Mega Blake, Landon Samson, Kylic Horton, and Zavier Short).
A little more under-the-radar because of the expectation that talented youngster LaNorris Sellers will start in 2024, the Gamecocks don't have much at quarterback. With Spencer Rattler heading off to the NFL and two quarterbacks transferring (Colten Gauthier and Tanner Bailey), Sellers (a rising redshirt freshman) and incoming true freshman Dante Reno are the only two scholarship signal-callers on the roster.
The defensive line needed help, as well. The Gamecocks have several defensive tackles who can play, but with the potential of the 3-3-5 being a heavy part of the USC defense, they need more, especially some who can play nose tackle. EDGE was a major weakness in 2023, and starter Jordan Strachan graduated. Three defensive linemen (DT Felix Hixon, DT D'Andre Martin, and EDGE Donovan Westmoreland) all hit the transfer portal, as well.
Some of those holes have already started to be filled.
The running back situation changed as USC brought in three transfer portal backs and one high school signee. Rocker Sanders (Arkansas), Oscar Adaway (North Texas), Jawarn Howell (South Carolina State), and Matthew Fuller (4-star class of 2024 signee) are all part of the program now, and fans can consider the running back room flipped.
Wide receiver has picked up some potential impact players as true freshmen Mazeo Bennett (4-star '24 signee) and Debron Gatling (3-star '24 signee) signed out of the high school ranks, and transfer portal wide receiver Jared Brown (Coastal Carolina) probably will start next fall. Another receiver Jayden McGowan (Vanderbilt) verbally committed to the Gamecocks out of the portal but did not sign. He flipped to Boston College after a bigger NIL offer.
On the defensive front, the Gamecocks brought in elite EDGE Dylan Stewart (5-star class of 2024 signee), two hybrid linebacker/EDGE players in Fred "JayR" Johnson (4-star class of 2024 signee) and Wendell Gregory (4-star class of 2024 signee), and veteran transfer portal pass rusher Kyle Kennard (Georgia Tech) from the transfer portal. Defensive tackle added two big bodies to help fill the middle of the D-line in Jerome Simmons (Highland Community College) from junior college and Deandre Jules (Pittsburgh) from the transfer portal.
However, the Gamecocks still have more questions with their team that they will need to answer in order to have an improved 2024 season.