South Carolina Football: Evaluating the Wide Receivers

Alex RobertsCorrespondent IAugust 14, 2012

South Carolina Football: Evaluating the Wide Receivers

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    I feel like I have been talking about the wide receivers a great deal these past few weeks.  I'm either writing about how the wide receivers are one of the keys to the 2012 season, or discussing them when evaluating the tight end position. I'm constantly asked about Shaq Roland and my opinion on how good Ace Sanders can be. 

    These unknown guys have a chance to be very special.  There may not be a clear-cut No. 1, but it won't be necessary. 

    Here is part four of my Gamecock overview. 

    Part 1:  Quarterbacks

    Part 2:  Running Backs

    Part 3:  Tight Ends

Ace Sanders

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    Height: 5'8"

    Weight: 175 lbs.

    Year: Junior

    Pros: Speed, agility, leadership, hands, route running

    Cons: Size

     

    The diminuitive Ace Sanders has a very big chance to be special. He's extremely fast and shockingly strong. He's also tough as nails. He will be looked to as an offensive leader, and he's shown off some great leadership ability, as Steve Spurrier deceided to take him to media day to represent the program. 

    There is a great chance that he blows up this season. There aren't many defensive backs that can cover him one on one. 

Damiere Byrd

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    Height: 5'9"

    Weight: 168 lbs.

    Year: Sophomore

    Pros: Speed, speed, speed, more speed, and speed

    Cons: Hands, strength, route running

     

    Damiere Byrd is possibly one of the fastest players in college football, but it didn't translate to much in 2011. He's worked diligently this offseason to improve his route running and hands, his two most pressing issues. 

    Instead of only being good at one route, he now looks much smoother coming out of his various cuts, and he isn't dropping many balls in practice. He was named the most improved wide receiver during the spring.

    If this can translate into real game success, then he will be a star. 

DeAngelo Smith

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    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 196 lbs.

    Year: Junior

    Pros: Hands, jumping ability, concentration

    Cons: Consistency, experience

     

    DeAngelo Smith has been a spring star for two straight years. However, he played the same position as Alshon Jeffery and never saw much playing time. He's now listed as a probable starter, so this could be the year. 

    He is a well-rounded receiver. He's not amazing in any one category. His workmanlike efforts will pay off this season. 

D.L. Moore

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    Height: 6'5"

    Weight: 198 lbs.

    Year: Senior

    Pros: Size, strength

    Cons: Inability to get open, consistency

     

    For a player who has started 13 games, D.L. Moore sure hasn't produced much. He seems to lack the ability to get separation. He is capable of being a big contributor for this program, but he must work harder without the ball in his hands in order to reach his potential. 

    With the Gamecocks searching for a big-bodied deep threat, now is the time for D.L. Moore to shine.

Shaq Roland

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    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 173 lbs.

    Year: Freshman

    Pros: Speed, agility, jumping ability, concentration

    Cons: Size, adjusting to the speed of the game

     

    Shaq Roland has made a believer out of me this spring. I originally didn't think his much ballyhooed jumping ability was nearly as impressive as Alshon Jeffery's. 

    Boy, was I wrong. This kid can flat out soar. He's also got amazing hands and concentration. As long as his small frame doesn't get hurt and he adjusts to the speed of college football, he will be an immediate and long lasting contributor. 

K.J. Brent

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    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 184 lbs.

    Year: Redshirt Freshman

    Pros: Speed, agility, work ethic, intelligence, size, hands

    Cons: Experience, injury concerns

     

    K.J. Brent is the total package. He broke his tibia in high school, and there is some concern about his ability to stay on the field. However, if he does, he could be a superstar. Not just a star... a SUPER star. 

    He has impressed Steve Spurrier since the day he arrived on campus. He has military discipline and the ability to match. 

Bruce Ellington

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    Height: 5'9"

    Weight: 197 lbs.

    Year: Sophomore

    Pros: Speed, agility, strength, leadership, versatility

    Cons: Plays two sports, route running

     

    Basketball superstar Bruce Ellington proved he also belonged on the gridiron by earning Freshman All-SEC honors as an all-purpose player. He played quarterback, caught passes, ran as a running back and took back kicks. 

    He did it all. This year, he will focus on being more of a traditional wide receiver. He's a skilled player that only needs to work on his route running ability a bit more to be a true breakaway threat. 

Shamier Jeffery

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    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 214 lbs.

    Year: Redshirt Freshman

    Pros: Speed

    Cons: Hands, route running, concentration, injury concerns, experience as a wide receiver

     

    Shamier Jeffery was once called a faster version of his brother Alshon, and it was assumed that his place as a Gamecock star would be guaranteed. Well, it hasn't been that easy. He was mostly a quarterback in high school, and his transition hasn't been smooth. 

    He is faster than his brother, but he lacks the fundamental wide receiver skills necessary to be a star right now.  His work ethic also doesn't match up with his brothers. All in all, he has a lot of work to do to live up to the lofty expectations set before him.

    I am definitely rooting for him.

Nick Jones

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    Height: 5'7"

    Weight: 184 lbs.

    Year: Sophomore

    Pros: Speed, hands

    Cons: Size, strength

     

    One of the forgotten receivers, Nick Jones is actually a very solid player. He's blazing fast and knows the offense. As a redshirt freshman last year, he had a dozen catches for 143 yards and a score. 

    While those aren't mind-blowing numbers, he was buried on the depth chart and made the most of each of his opportunities. He actually made some big plays throughout the year. 

    He could be a regular contributor to the team and could improve upon his numbers.

Jody Fuller

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    Height: 5'11"

    Weight: 201 lbs.

    Year: Freshman

    Pros: Speed, vision, hands

    Cons: Experience, youth

     

    A true freshman, Jody Fuller picked South Carolina over Miami, North Carolina and Tennessee. The 4-star (according to ESPN) prospect has a lot of potential and will be a major contributor for South Carolina in the upcoming seasons. 

    However, I see him redshirting this season. 

Kwinton Smith

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    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 201 lbs.

    Year: Freshman

    Pros: Size, strength, leaping ability

    Cons: Youth, experience

     

    Another 4-tar (ESPN and Scout) prospect, Kwinton Smith has an excellent receiver body. He's got size, strength and surprisingly good speed.

    However, I also see him redshirting this season.

Overall: B+

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    Stock: Steady

    2010: B+

    2011: B+

    2012: B+

     

    Yes, you heard me (or rather read me) correctly. This group of wide receivers is as good as last year's, even without Alshon Jeffery. 

    Am I crazy? No. (Well, maybe). 

    In fact, I think this group benefits with his absence. As great a player as Alshon Jeffery is, there is so much skill and variety with this group, they can make defenses more leery of each player. Before, they could concentrate on the run and then double- or triple-team Alshon. 

    This year, the improved individuals on the team and the emergence of some freshman stars (specifically Shaq Roland and K.J. Brent) will make this a group to reckon with.