The transfer portal might have slowed down a bit heading into Christmas, but the transfer window hasn't closed just yet. South Carolina football fans saw that firsthand on Sunday night when a starter decided to enter his name into the portal.
With a social media announcement late on Sunday night, linebacker Stone Blanton, who was a starter in 2023, revealed he would be leaving the South Carolina football program.
After spending two seasons in Columbia, the former 4-star prospect from Mississippi will look for a new home. Gamecock fans should watch out for his home state Mississippi State Bulldog team to make a move for Blanton. Blanton was committed to play baseball for Chris Lemonis and the Bulldogs before flipping to the South Carolina football program late in the recruiting process.
On the field, this transfer portal move doesn't come as much of a surprise. Fellow 'backers Debo Williams and Bam Martin-Scott were much better down the stretch than Blanton, and youngsters Pup Howard and Jaron Willis played more than ever at the end of the season. The Gamecocks are also bringing in two 4-star linebackers in the class of 2024 as Fred "JayR" Johnson and Wendell Gregory both signed with the South Carolina Gamecocks on last Wednesday's Signing Day.
Still, Blanton's departure appears to have come out of nowhere. In the three weeks that the transfer portal has been open, there has not been any indication that #52 had played his final snaps for the garnet and black. However, it the modern world of college football, no one should be surprised at any roster movement that occurs.
The Gamecocks switched to a 3-3-5 late last season, and Blanton fit better into a role as a Mike in the three-linebacker set, so USC coach Shane Beamer and his staff will need to figure out what they want to do at that position next year.
Debo Williams makes some sense at Mike as a run-stopper who can blitz in the A-gap well. Pup Howard (if he doesn't grow too big to play linebacker) could be a candidate to win snaps in the middle of the defense, as well.