South Carolina Football New Year's Resolutions:
Finish Strong in the Transfer Portal
Shane Beamer and his coaching staff have done a good job in the transfer portal so far, and the Gamecocks are ranked in the top-10 nationally in transfer classes according to 247Sports.
Carolina has completely flipped the running back room. Empty other than injured scatback Juju McDowell and inexperienced rising sophomore Djay Braswell, the Gamecock running back room added three impact players this offseason through the transfer portal. Rocket Sanders (a top-5 portal back from Arkansas), Oscar Adaway (a 2000-yard player from North Texas), and Jawarn Howell (FCS' best running back while a freshman last year at South Carolina State) all could have been part of the Gamecocks' top-2 at the position in 2023 and will battle for carries next year.
Defensive linemen were needed in Columbia, as well. After needed retentions of 4th-and-5th-year players like TJ Sanders, Tonka Hemingway, and Boogie Huntley, the Gamecocks added three players to the defensive front through the transfer portal. Junior college defensive tackle Jerome Simmons was joined by high-upside tackle Deandre Jules (Pittsburgh) and athletic pass rusher Kyle Kennard (Georgia Tech). Jules and Kennard are expected to play early, and Simmons could earn himself some playing time, as well, especially if Hemingway and Sanders play outside as big ends in the 3-3-5.
One of the biggest issues on the USC defense last year was secondary personnel. The Gamecocks had some good players (three 2022 and 2023 freshman All-Americans at safety and an All-SEC corner), but they couldn't find the right way to put all the puzzle pieces together. South Carolina added rising redshirt sophomore defensive back Gerald Kilgore (brother of current Gamecock Jalon Kilgore) from Tennessee Tech, and he will add needed depth and special teams ability to a team that needs both.
An addition at tight end could help fill the gap left by the graduating Trey Knox. Ball State 2022 Freshman All-American Brady Hunt should be able to help immediately, giving the young tight ends on the roster (most notably, incoming 4-star freshman Michael Smith) more time to get ready. Josh Simon has just one year left to play, so some tight ends will have to step up in 2025. Adding Hunt will provide them that developmental time.
The Gamecocks also added a wide receiver in Jared Brown (Coastal Carolina). However, though he will help as a big-play threat, Carolina needs more help at receiver. No USC receiver has more than 250 yards receiving in garnet and blacks, and after Josh Simon and Juju McDowell (2 each), the team's career receiving touchdown leaders include their longsnapper Hunter Rogers and defensive tackle Boogie Huntley.
Adding at least one more receiver, picking up a depth quarterback, and kicking the tires on good players on the offensive line and at corner should be top transfer portal priority for the Gamecocks. Players like Gage Larvadain (Miami (OH)), Elijah Sarratt (James Madison), and Ahmari Huggins-Bruce (Louisville) are among the targets at receiver, and USC was named a finalist for offensive tackle Percy Lewis (Mississippi State). Quarterbacks like Malachi Nelson (Southern Cal), Chandler Morris (TCU), and Davis Beville (Oklahoma) have all been linked to Carolina, as well.
Finishing strong in the portal should be among the top priorities for South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer and should be on his list of New Year's Resolutions.