South Carolina opens fall camp on Friday. Though many key positions such as QB, RB and DE have solid starters in place, there are several holes the Gamecocks must fill.
Here’s a look at three position battles to keep an eye on as the Gamecocks head into 2012:
1. Go-to wide receiver
The Gamecocks will be looking for a No. 1 WR to replace the departed Alshon Jeffery. They don’t have any contenders with the 6-foot-4, 235-pound size that Jeffery possessed, but they have plenty of speed. Sanders is the most experienced with 50 career catches for 654 yards and four touchdowns. Ellington, also the point guard on the basketball team, showed some playmaking ability last season with over 300 all-purpose yards. Byrd only caught one pass in 2011, but he showed his speed in the spring game by catching a 70-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the game.
2. Defensive tackle
Three spots on the defensive line are in good shape with Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor at DE and Kelcy Quarles at the other DT spot. The Gamecocks will, however, need to find a replacement for the departed DT Travian Robertson. Jerideau, a redshirt senior, is the favorite to win the job. He has played 18 games and has the most size of the contenders at 320 pounds. He would be a good complement to the athleticism of other defensive linemen. Dixon, Surratt and Dukes don’t have the same experience, but they all have good upside and will compete in camp.
Top contenders: Patrick Fish, Mike Williamson, Landon Ard, Adam Yates, Nick St. Germain
South Carolina must replace P Joey Scribner-Howard and K Jay Wooten. Patrick Fish and Mike Williamson will battle to handle the punting duties. Fish lost that battle as a freshman and he'll compete with Williamson, a transfer from Columbia University, who averaged 40 yards per punt in 2009.
At kicker, the Gamecocks have Landon Ard and Adam Yates, who was a kickoff specialist in 2009, but hasn’t appeared since. They will be pushed by true freshman Germain, who was rated as the fourth-best kicker in the 2012 class by 247Sports.com.
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