On the Beat: Depth chart yields a few surprises

August 31, 2017

COLUMBIA – South Carolina’s depth chart for the NC State game featured around a dozen changes from the preseason camp chart.

There still wasn’t a starting running back listed – although Will Muschamp said that Rico Dowdle would probably start during his weekly press conference – and the biggest changes were at wide receiver. Starters Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards remained untouched, but Terry Googer, listed as a starter in the preseason, was switched to Samuel’s backup.

Freshman Shi Smith helmed the other starting receiver spot while Mount Pleasant’s OrTre Smith was listed under Edwards.

The Gamecocks have said they love the versatility and depth of their receiver corps and a depth chart may not mean anything. For instance, freshman Chad Terrell has sparkled in camp and should travel to Charlotte for the N.C. State game but wasn’t listed on the depth chart.

With so many tight ends that can play and play well, the Gamecocks may use more of them instead of true receivers. During USC’s one open practice, it was common to see three tight ends in one formation.

There are four TEs on the depth chart, led by Hayden Hurst and Jacob August. K.C. Crosby and Kiel Pollard are the backups.

The legs

Muschamp said the place-kicker competition was still undecided between Alexander Woznick and Parker White. Each will travel to the game and White will be the Gamecocks’ kickoff specialist.

White has impressed in his limited time on campus. He didn’t play football last year as a normal USC freshman.

“You hear great stories about walk-ons all the time across the country,” special teams coordinator Coleman Hutzler said. “To have a guy come in, a South Carolina kid, a Carolina-made kid, that comes in and steps into a role and takes advantage of it and competes and does a lot of things for you, is exciting. He’s done a good job.”

Big man

Goose Creek’s Javon Kinlaw was listed as Ulric Jones’ backup at defensive tackle on the depth chart. The massive Kinlaw can be a run-stopper in the middle, although at 326 pounds, is still working on his stamina and endurance.

“A guy that’s as big as he is, the biggest thing that concerns you is pad level,” Muschamp said. “He’s got to get his pads down in some situations. He’s got a great work ethic, he’s extremely bright, learns extremely well, a guy that I’ve been really pleased with.”

Defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth, no lightweight at 305 pounds, had his own opinion.

“You seen him? I stood up beside him, he made me look small,” Stallworth said. “That’s a big boy. I feel like, if he brings that presence that nobody can block him, he can be a force in this league.”