Imagining What South Carolina's Starting Lineup Will Look Like in 3 Years
Managing a college football roster is an ever-changing process, and it's time to start looking at the future of South Carolina football.
With a steady batch of incoming talent, the Gamecocks are looking solid for the immediate and distant future and will look to improve with more strong recruiting classes.
The talent pool is deep on both sides of the football for South Carolina, which should have head coach Steve Spurrier excited and motivated to stay with the team despite starting to get up there in age.
Next year's lineup is far from set, but let's look past one year and even two years from now.
This is a look at what South Carolina's starting lineup will look like in three years.
Starter: Connor Mitch
Connor Mitch is the future for South Carolina at the quarterback position.
He came in with a lot of hype, and the coaches are happy with his progress. With a pro-style game and a strong arm to throw into the mix, he has the tools to be a successful quarterback with the Gamecocks.
Spurrier and Mitch have a close connection, and Spurrier was once a Heisman winner and a solid quarterbacking mentor. So, Mitch has a perfect teacher for his development.
Starter: David Williams
South Carolina has prided itself on having elite running backs ever since Marcus Lattimore walked the grounds in Columbia. With Mike Davis following suit, there is a high standard to keep up with the Gamecocks backfield.
David Williams came into South Carolina as a highly regarded tailback, and things have not changed.
He will continue to work his way into the mix. He has a big frame and runs with authority, which will carry him a long way.
In his senior year, he will be a scary force for opposing teams to deal with.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
WR Starters: Shaq Davidson, Terry Googer, 2015 recruit
TE Starters: Kalan Ritchie, Kevin Crosby
South Carolina does not lack depth at wide receiver right now, but three years from now is a big question. With three 2014 recruits coming in as wide receivers, those guys look to be the heirs to the receiving corps.
Shaq Davidson is the most talented of the bunch in terms of raw talent, but Terry Googer has some huge potential. With his long frame, he could develop into an Alshon Jeffery-style receiver, and no one in South Carolina would complain about that.
Tyshun Samuel has the skills to work his way into the mix in the future, but an elite wide receiver recruit will come along and steal his playing time.
As for tight ends, it will be Kalan Ritchie's job to lose, assuming he doesn't transition to wide receiver during his career. If that happens, a new recruit of the future will take his spot.
Kevin Crosby probably won't work out of the traditional tight end spot on the line but rather make his plays out of the backfield. Nevertheless, he is a talented player who could be a starter at the traditional tight end slot.
Starters: Na'Ty Rodgers (OT), Brock Stadnik (OG), Cody Waldrop (C), Donell Stanley (OG), D.J. Park (OT)
This is by far the hardest group to pin down in terms of who could be starting in three years. There is extreme depth with redshirt players left and right, and it's only going to be more difficult to land a starting role on the offensive line with all of the recruits to come in the next couple of years.
Stanley and Park are the safest bets to start on the line, but Rodgers is the biggest question mark. Mason Zandi is waiting for the chance, and a great offensive tackle recruit is bound to come along in the next two classes.
Stadnik and Waldrop will have tons of experience three years from now, but a lot can change.
While it's difficult to pick a starting lineup, the team will be golden on the offensive line with a slew of talent, and that is not a bad problem to have.
DE Starters: Dante Sawyer, Shameik Blackshear (2015 recruit)
DT Starters: Dexter Wideman, 2015 recruit
South Carolina is constantly hauling in defensive linemen who can straight up compete. This group could be the most talented position on the team in three years, but right now there are a lot of question marks.
Dante Sawyer and Dexter Wideman could have qualification issues, so seeing both suit up in the garnet and black in the fall of 2014 or ever is a questionable possibility. If they don't, then the baton will get passed to some of the lower-rated recruits or recruits of the future.
I know it's early, but I don't think Shameik Blackshear, a 2015 commit, will flip his recruitment, although strange things have occurred in college football. He is the real deal and could become the best defensive end in college football in three years. South Carolina needs to sign his letter of intent first.
The defensive line will be fine in years to come, but right now there are too many variables to have a strong grasp on what the position will look like.
Starters: Larenz Bryant, Bryson Allen-Williams, Dexter Pittman (2015 recruit)
Given South Carolina's defensive scheme, it's tough to know which player goes where for linebackers. Size and coverage become major factors, with the "Spur" linebacker being a major role.
Larenz Bryant and Bryson Allen-Williams are more of outside linebackers, but they have so much talent that they will be playing three years from now as key defensive players.
Pittman is a 2015 commit, whom I would expect to sign with South Carolina, but the outcome won't be known until he signs his letter of intent. He is smaller now and could shift around, but only time will tell.
The linebackers have a lot of flexibility and depth for the future, and new recruits could start in three years, too.
Starters: Chris Lammons (CB), Wesley Green (CB), D.J. Smith (S), Chaz Elder (S)
South Carolina had a great end of the 2014 recruiting season by landing Lammons, Green and Smith, who will all play big roles with the team in the future.
Lammons and Green will hold down the edges as cornerbacks, and they will both develop into solid cover corners. Smith, who is a cornerback right now, makes sense as a safety down the road.
Chaz Elder is improving quickly, and the coaching staff loves his play. He is a hardworking player and will have a lot of leadership under his belt three years from now.
The Gamecocks secondary looks set for the future, but as with any position and a three-year time gap, things could change, and new impact recruits could come in ready to play.