South Carolina Football: Top Receiving Threats for 2012
The wide receiver position is a bit of an unknown for the South Carolina Gamecocks.
They no longer of having the option to throw it up to the super talented Alshon Jeffery. This means there will be new receiving threats and players who will have to step up and fill that void.
South Carolina does have the luxury of having some experienced receivers coming back along with a mix of red-shirt freshman and soon-to-be true freshman that could help the Gamecocks passing game in 2012. There are also a few running backs capable of catching the ball out of the backfield for South Carolina as well.
Here's a look at some of the top receiving threats for the Gamecocks in 2012.
No. 1: WR Ace Sanders
Ace Sanders is one of the smallest players for South Carolina, but he stands the chance to be the Gamecocks top receiving option in 2012.
Sanders is the leading returning receiver for the Gamecocks in 2012 as he finished 2011 with 29 catches for 383 yards with two touchdowns. He averaged 29.5 yards per game and did have a 13.5 yards per catch average last season.
The diminutive Sanders is a speedy player with an elusiveness to break free from the defender. He also runs solid routes and has good hands. He's a player who seems ready to take the next step for the Gamecocks this year and should provide strong leadership at the wide receiver position.
Sanders will be counted on a lot for South Carolina, and he should be ready for the challenge. Look for a big year from Sanders in the Gamecocks receiving game this upcoming season.
No. 2: RB Marcus Lattimore
It may be strange to see a running back as one of your top receiving threats, but that's what kind of player Marcus Lattimore is for the Gamecocks.
In only seven games played, he was third on the team in receptions with 19 and had 182 receiving yards. He also added one touchdown and averaged 26.0 yards per game and had a 9.6 yards a catch.
We all know Lattimore is not the fastest player on the team, but he makes things happen with the ball in his hands. He's considered a complete running back and being a receiving threat is part of what makes him so good.
A healthy Lattimore in 2012 will only help this Gamecock offense, and Connor Shaw open things up in the passing game. He's such a threat rushing and receiving the football that he'll be able to make big plays all year long.
No. 3: TE Rory Anderson
One of the biggest surprises for the Gamecocks in 2011 was Rory "Buster" Anderson.
This lanky tight end from Georgia wound up playing for the Gamecocks out of necessity and ended up being a big play threat for South Carolina.
Anderson finished the year with only eight catches, but three of those catches were for touchdowns, which was second on the team last year. He had 188 yards receiving for an average per catch of 23.5 yards.
Expect Anderson to play a bigger role in the passing game as he's a large target at the tight end position with surprising speed. He could fill a void of the tall receiver that Alshon Jeffery left by going early to the NFL.
A nice surprise for the Gamecocks could turn out to be another Jared Cook for South Carolina in 2012. South Carolina fans would probably be okay with that.
No. 4: WR Shamier Jeffery
The younger brother of Alshon Jeffery has already drawn comparisons to his older brother through day one of spring practice for the Gamecocks this spring.
Shamier Jeffery is a smaller version of his older brother standing 6'1" tall and weighing 208 pounds, but the comparisons are there. He has the look of Alshon and runs his routes in a similar fashion. Jeffery was close to playing in 2011 but ended up red-shirting to create some space between him and some of the other wide receivers.
The move should pay off as Jeffery looks poised to be a big part of the Gamecocks offense in 2012. He's got great hands and is faster than Alshon. If he can catch like him, then the Gamecocks stand a good chance to have another receiving star on their hands.
No. 5: WR Shaq Roland
Shaq Roland is considered the prized piece of the Gamecocks recruiting class for 2012. There is good reason why.
He was Mr. Do-It-All for the Lexington Wildcats in high school as he played multiple positions in high school and excelled in great fashion. South Carolina signed him to be a wide receiver, and that is where this talented player will begin his career.
Roland had 79 catches his senior year for 1,546 yards and 19 receiving touchdowns. He also added 305 rushing yards with 10 touchdowns. Big numbers for the 6'1" prospect who was considered one of the top 100 recruits across the board for most recruiting services.
South Carolina hopes his elusiveness will carry over to the next level, and he'll use his basketball background to help pull down the jump-balls that Alshon Jeffery used to catch. Roland seems to be a smart player and a guy that will work hard to become the next top receiver for the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks should expect Roland to work his way into the rotation and become an eventual starter at some point in the near future. He's that good.
No. 6: WR D.L. Moore
The young receiving group will need a veteran leader, and D.L. Moore needs to be the player to step up for South Carolina.
Moore will be a red-shirt senior for the Gamecocks who will bring 32 career catches for 315 receiving yards and four career touchdowns.
These aren't impressive numbers, but Moore has valuable starting experience in this offense and is a tall receiving threat that can make a play if given a chance. Moore is also one of the better blockers at the receiver position, so he adds value to the play even when he's not involved.
The Gamecocks need D.L. Moore to finally showcase some of that playmaking ability that they recruited him for out of the state of Kentucky.
He'll have one final season to show that he can be a great player for South Carolina this year. The time is now D.L. Moore to step up and become a threat at wide receiver.
No. 7: RB Brandon Wilds
Brandon Wilds was another big surprise for the Gamecocks in 2012.
Wilds seemingly came out of nowhere to fill the void when Marcus Lattimore went down with injury against Mississippi State. He would go on to be a solid running back for South Carolina and was equally impressive as a receiver out of the backfield.
Last year, Wilds had 15 catches for 136 yards for an average of 10.5 yards per game and 9.1 yards per catch. Wilds looked good catching the ball out of the backfield and showcased an ability to make a play in the open space.
He's fighting for a backup spot at running back right now but is definitely a great receiver for South Carolina and a "hidden gem" for the Gamecocks in 2012.