South Carolina Football: How TE Is Becoming a Key Position for the Gamecocks

Lee Schechter@@leeschechterContributor IIIJune 6, 2013

COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 22:  Rory Anderson #81 and Bruce Ellington #23 of the South Carolina Gamecocks celebrate after Anderson's third quarter touchdown catch against the Missouri Tigers during play at Williams-Brice Stadium on September 22, 2012 in Columbia, South Carolina. South Carolina won 31-10.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier takes pride in developing balanced and versatile offenses, especially when they maximize the use of athletic and talented tight ends.  

Under the Spurrier era, the Gamecocks have produced NFL tight end talents such as Jared Cook, Justice Cunningham and Weslye Saunders. While Cunningham's and Saunders' careers are still young, Cook has been able to produce fairly effectively for the Tennessee Titans.  

The time of Cook, Cunningham and Saunders donning the garnet and black is over, though Spurrier's Gamecocks are far from being through with putting an emphasis on the tight end position. This year's tight ends have out-of-this-world potential and the future is even brighter as South Carolina is hauling in top tight end recruits.  

The University of South Carolina football program is gradually turning into what could be "Tight End University." 

In 2013, the Gamecocks will turn to Rory "Busta" Anderson and Jerell Adams as prime receiving targets and all-around great tight ends. Anderson and Adams are the real deal when it comes to tight ends, and the Gamecocks are very fortunate to have both of them on the field at the same time.  

Spurrier is going to use a lot of two tight end sets and fully utilize the abilities of Anderson and Adams. They may even be the team's biggest offensive weapons.   

Both of these tight ends are long, superior athletes who also have soft hands, great bursts of speed and acrobatic abilities. All of that is just on the receiving side of the tight end position. Anderson and Adams are also have high football IQs and will be consistent blockers that use their big, powerful bodies to knock defenders off the line.  

South Carolina has the best tight end duo in all of college football for 2013 and they will be an integral part of the offense. Anderson and Adams can burst up the seam to make big plays, work the slots and hold their ground as a sixth offensive linemen.

With the success of tight ends over the years at South Carolina and the huge potential that Spurrier brings out in players at the position, the Gamecocks' years of being an elite school for tight ends are far from over.  

Kalan Ritchie and Kevin Crosby are two tight end recruits who have huge upside and see the advantages of attending South Carolina. The Gamecocks understand how key the tight end position is for both the current team and the future.  

Ritchie continues the trend of big, athletic tight ends who come through South Carolina, while Crosby is a stout, blocking type of tight end who also has very good hands. Both of these recruits are going to have big roles in the future of the Gamecocks' offense.  

Tight end is an ever-growing position in the NFL, especially when looking at the New England Patriots who utilize two tight end sets with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. South Carolina is the NCAA equivalent of the Patriots. 

Spurrier puts a high emphasis on tight ends by utilizing the position's versatility and offensive potential. 

The past, present and future of the Gamecocks' tight ends are very bright.

With more recruits piling in to gain their chance to play at a key position for a top football program, South Carolina will continue to establish itself as "Tight End University."