South Carolina Football: The Now and the Future of the Gamecocks' Running Backs

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South Carolina Football: The Now and the Future of the Gamecocks' Running Backs
RICHARD SHIRO/Associated Press

Head football coach Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks have produced two elite running backs in the last few years in Marcus Lattimore and Mike Davis. South Carolina has quickly become a program where running backs can thrive.

Davis is around for at least one more season, but it's time to look at the running back situation in 2014 and beyond.

 

Mike Davis

After his emergence in the spring of 2013, Davis has become one of the top running backs in the SEC and the nation. With his explosiveness and exceptional vision, Davis seized the opportunity to win the position from Brandon Wilds and never looked backgranted, Wilds was hurt for most of the season.

Davis can ground-and-pound opposing teams with hard-nosed, north-south running. He wears down opponents with a consistent attack that always finds him picking up chunks of positive yardage.

However, Davis isn't just a "grab a couple of yards" running back. He is a total home run hitter with his bursts of speed and shifty moves in the open field.

When he hits the second level, it's too late for the defense.

RICHARD SHIRO/Associated Press

Davis also is a major receiving threat out of the backfield. This could become a deadly changeup in the 2014 season, especially via screens to Davis or play-action swing routes.

Davis will continue to be a total stud of a running back in 2014 as he builds off his successful 2013 season. He will likely split more carries as the team looks to conserve him for the big moments and prevent the risk of injuries.

Nonetheless, Davis will be the focal point of the offense and deserves to have the pigskin in his hands, as he is a complete offensive weapon.

 

Brandon Wilds

Wilds struggled with injuries in 2013, but he will back in 2014 and is ready to make his mark. As an older player on the team as a redshirt junior, Wilds has experience.

And don't forget this kid went off just a couple of seasons ago while filling in for an injured Lattimore.

Rainier Ehrhardt/Associated Press

Wilds is exactly the type of complementary running back to pair with Davis in the ground game. Wilds is a power back and can bulldoze opposing players. He does the dirty work and will run with a true purpose in 2014 to make up for lost time.

I would expect Wilds to return for his fifth year in 2015 and could wind up being the starter, assuming Davis leaves for the NFL.

 

David Williams 

Williams has the best chance of being South Carolina's running back of the future. For one, he's young. He's also really talented.

Williams runs like Davis, but is a little bit bigger of a back at 6'1".

In 2014, Williams probably won't land too many carries, but this kid has a lot of talent and will work his way onto the field.

Williams' time will come, as I could see him being the starter in 2015. That would be a good situation for the Gamecocks, who will replace Davis with a back of similar talent.

 

 

Shon Carson

Baseball. Football. Baseball. Football. He's played the balancing act, but Carson is finally focusing on football this spring.

L.G. Patterson/Associated Press

I have been a huge fan of Carson's for years. How could you not be?

Just watch this kid's speed and combine it with his built frame of 200 pounds, and you have a coach's dream.

Right now, he is the third-string running back, though his speed provides a new element to the run game. Carson is an excellent receiving back too.

Carson has the opportunity to be back in 2015 and he could assume a larger role.

Spurrier should look to use Carson as a versatile, unpredictable offensive weapon.

 

The Future

In 2014, it's all about Davis.

In 2015, it's all about Williams, Wilds and Carson.

In 2016, it's all about Williams.

With that said, South Carolina is in need of building depth at the running back position as well as developing future starters. So who are the Gamecocks targeting in the 2015 recruiting class?

Right now, the recruiting grounds for running back are a bit hazy, but I will throw a couple of names out there.

Ty'Son Williams is most likely headed to Georgia despite being a South Carolina product, though the Gamecocks could make a strong push for him. Williams has prototypical size and is a 4-star prospect, so he has potential.

It's early in his recruitment and he isn't exactly on South Carolina's radar, but D'Anfernee McGriff has some interest in the Gamecocks. He is expected to stay in his home state of Florida, but McGriff is gaining steam in the recruiting landscape.

He's a dual-threat quarterback and a running back, so he's essentially an athlete. And he's a very talented one to say the least. South Carolina should give this kid a look and see if he is worth a strong recruiting push. However, position becomes a bit of question with him.

The need for running backs of the future is not the most pressing, though many of the current backs will be gone in the next two seasons.

Therefore, it's in the Gamecocks' best interest to take action now and begin the development of a player who could become the next Lattimore or Davis.

 

Recruit information courtesy of 247Sports.com.

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