South Carolina Recruiting: Which Signees Will See the Field as Freshmen?

Charles BennettContributor IFebruary 10, 2014

If he qualifies academically, Dexter Wideman is a strong possibility to play as a freshman for South Carolina.
If he qualifies academically, Dexter Wideman is a strong possibility to play as a freshman for South Carolina.247Sports

COLUMBIA, S.C.—Now that the smoke has cleared from national signing day, it's a good time to take a look at South Carolina's recruiting class and project which players have the best chance of playing right away and which players are likely headed for redshirt seasons.

In last year's class, which numbered 18 scholarship players after some early season attrition, six freshmen played while the rest redshirted.

This year's class of 21 may offer more opportunity for first-year players just because of immediate need on the defensive line and at cornerback.

The Gamecocks lost their top three cornerbacks from last season. Sophomore Rico McWilliams is South Carolina's most experienced returning player at cornerback, and will have the benefit of another spring under his belt before the incoming class arrives.

He's likely to have a relatively firm grasp on one of the starting spots entering the fall, but he's going to be pressed to hold on to it.

Two of the Gamecocks' top signees in 4-star corners Chris Lammons and Wesley Green arrive in the fall and, unless they fall far short of their billing, will almost certainly play.

Another 4-start corner, D.J. Smith, will also likely play his way into the secondary rotation at corner simply because of need. Smith's ultimate destination will probably be safety.

Likewise, 3-star corner Al Harris should factor in because of need.

The lone remaining corner in the class, Darin Smalls, will almost certainly redshirt while recovering from a knee injury.

Things are a bit trickier to assess on the defensive line. Even though the Gamecocks lose three of four starters, there is an abundance of returning talent with experience that will make cracking the rotation a bit harder for incoming players.

Look first to Abu Lamin, a 4-star junior college transfer at defensive tackle who is already enrolled and eligible to participate in the spring.

There are questions whether Dexter Wideman will qualify, but if he does he'll likely play at either end or tackle.

Incoming defensive ends Dante Sawyer and Jhaustin Thomas are both likely to play their way into the rotation as well.

Blake McClain, whom the Gamecocks lured away from Nebraska at the last second, also has a shot but it wouldn't be a surprise if he redshirts.

The same goes for defensive end Kalan Ritchie, tight end/defensive end Kevin Crosby and tackle Taylor Stallworth.

Even though South Carolina's young linebackers played well last season, there's plenty of room for Bryson Allen-Williams to make an immediate impact.

Of the incoming receivers, Shaq Davidson rates the best chance to play, but because of depth at the position, he's likely to redshirt along with Terry Googer and Tyshun Samuel.

Offensive line is another area of strength for the Gamecocks, leaving Donnell Stanley and Malik Young strong candidates to redshirt.

With three quarterbacks solidly entrenched ahead of him, signee Michael Scarnecchia is almost certainly headed for a redshirt year.

Finally, fullback/inside linebacker Joe Blue is a likely redshirt, unless he proves himself worthy as a special teams player.

So the projection here is nine of 21 will probably play as freshman and more are possible.

One thing head coach Steve Spurrier has already proven in nine seasons at South Carolina is he's not afraid to play anyone who has earned the opportunity, regardless of experience.


All star ratings courtesy of 247Sports.