South Carolina Gamecocks Football: Top 11 Player Seasons of 2011

Alex RobertsCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2012

South Carolina Gamecocks Football: Top 11 Player Seasons of 2011

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    With 11 historic wins in 2011, the South Carolina Gamecocks put themselves in position to truly be a player in the SEC. 

    While they have a long way to go to be considered an elite team or program, they have elevated themselves beyond the mediocre status that they have previously held. 

    It couldn't have been done without some truly special guys. 

    So here are the top 11 individual seasons from the 11-game winning 2011 Gamecocks. 

11. Bruce Ellington

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    While Bruce Ellington didn't have one area where he stuffed the stat sheet, his combined efforts running, catching, passing and returning the football led him to be the second leading all-purpose yards player on the Gamecocks roster. 

    It was a really nice season for the basketball star. 

10. Stephon Gilmore

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    Stephon Gilmore had a pretty solid year.  He made 35 solo tackles, had a team-leading four interceptions, a sack, seven pass breakups, a fumble recovery and a blocked extra point. 

    He could be a first-round draft pick if he comes back for his senior year. 

    He's a special player, and could be a shut down guy with one more year of training. 

9. Alshon Jeffery

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    Alshon Jeffery did not have his finest season.  However, he still had 762 yards receiving and caught eight touchdowns.  Those are good numbers for a normal wide receiver. However, they are considered disappointing by his standards because he is a beast. 

    He made big plays when they counted. 

8. Devin Taylor

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    Devin Taylor is pretty much the forgotten man on the defensive line.  He had 42 tackles, 6 sacks, one interception and two fumble recoveries. 

    He is another player who could be dominant if he comes back for his senior year. 

7. Marcus Lattimore

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    Lattimore easily would have been No. 1 if he didn't get hurt at Mississippi State.  He rushed for 835 yards in seven-and-a-half games for 10 touchdowns.  He also had 165 receiving yards, which put him at the 1,000 yard threshold for total yards. 

    At that pace, he could have been South Carolina's second Heisman winner. 

    Hopefully he comes back next year stronger than ever. My guess is that he will.

6. D.J. Swearinger

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    D.J. Swearinger had an unheralded season. 

    However, he was as productive as any of the star defensive players.  He had 80 tackles, which was second on the team.  He also had three interceptions and a forced fumble.  His hitting ability makes him stand out. 

    He was vicious in 2011. 

5. Rokevious Watkins

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    An All-SEC lineman and do-it-all guy, Rokevious Watkins deserves a major shout out for the season he had.  He played tackle, he played guard and he did both very well.  He will be missed. 

4. Jadeveon Clowney

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    Pure nasty. 

    That is probably the most succinct way to describe Jadeveon Clowney's freshman campaign.  He had eight sacks—and most importantly—six forced fumbles.  When he takes over as a starter next year, he could double that production. 

    The SEC will be wary of him for two more seasons. 

3. Connor Shaw

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    Connor Shaw is straight up amazing.  He had a few rocky games here and there, but overall, he had one heck of a season, and was a surprise to all. 

    He completed 65.4 percent of his passes for 1,448 yards, 14 touchdowns and only six interceptions.  His efficiency rating was at 148.31, which is right up there with Aaron Murray of Georgia. 

    That only takes into account his passing: His running ability is equally as impressive.  He rushed for 525 yards and eight touchdowns. 

    The scary part? He's only going to get better.

2. Antonio Allen

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    Antonio Allen was a revelation this season.  Much like the man I have at No. 1, Allen wasn't on many folks radars. 

    Boy, did that change quickly. 

    He led the team in tackles with 88, including 9.5 for a loss.  He had a sack, three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and four forced fumbles.  He was an absolute game-changer. 

1. Melvin Ingram

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    What an unbelievable season Mr. Melvin Ingram had.  He played his way from a second-day NFL pick to a possible top ten guy. 

    He had 48 tackles, 10 sacks, two interceptions, one fumble recovery and two gigantic fake punt runs. 

    He will be a Gamecock legend this season.