South Carolina Football: Spring Practice Position Battle Tracker

Lee Schechter@@leeschechterContributor IIIApril 2, 2014

South Carolina Football: Spring Practice Position Battle Tracker

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    John Sommers II/Getty Images

    South Carolina's spring football practice season is kicking it into high gear and the position battles are heating up. 

    With an offense that returns a majority of its players, the bulk of the battles are occurring on the defensive side of the ball and at the line of scrimmage. 

    After losing defensive linemen Jadeveon Clowney, Chaz Sutton and Kelcy Quarles, the Gamecocks have gaps but do not lack the talent to fill them. From top to bottom, South Carolina has enough depth to the point where any player can emerge as the main person in that role. 

    South Carolina needs to find options in the pass rush and interior of the defensive line. Though, one of the biggest battles is one that dates back to last spring involving the "Spur" linebacker position.

    Dylan Thompson is the starting quarterback, yet the backup role is highly contested with three candidates making their claim.

    The spring is young and the position battles are getting intense. Here is a look at five position battles for the South Carolina Gamecocks.   

Defensive Tackle

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    J.T. Surratt is the lone defensive tackle with a moderate amount of experience. After Surratt, the Gamecocks need some help and they have it with a deep, talented group of big fellas up front. 

    Many expected Abu Lamin, Gerald Dixon Jr., Phillip Dukes or Kelsey Griffin to be the tackle to accompany Surratt on the inside, though another name has quickly joined the mix. 

    According to, a South Carolina CBS affiliate, Deon Green is catching the attention of defensive line coach Deke Adams. He is progressing rather quickly and displays the drive to separate himself from the pack. Though, Abu Lamin is right on his tail. Lamin is expected to jump in right away since he has a lot of junior college experience. 

    I still think Kelsey Griffin will make a strong push to have a significant role in the rotation. Though with such a volume of depth at defensive tackle, the position has a lot of flexibility and there will be a lot of job sharing in the fall. 

Defensive End

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Similar to defensive tackle, South Carolina needs to replace the starting defensive ends.

    There is some concern about the physicality of the slender speed-rushers who could get bullied this season. Darius English and Cedrick Cooper are filling out their frames as the Gamecocks need to develop strength off the edges. English projects to be one starter, though the other slot and the depth positions are up for grabs. 

    Two players who are making the most of spring practice are David Johnson and Mason Harris. Both sit behind Gerald Dixon Jr. on the spring depth chart. Johnson is showing similar progress to that of Deon Green and he offers strength to the position. Harris is showing that he can be placed anywhere on the line and have an impact, which makes him a valuable, versatile contributor. 

    Watch for this battle to continue through the spring and prolong throughout the 2014 season. This battle is far from being over. 

Backup Quarterback

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    Dylan Thompson is starting. But who will be the guy behind him on the depth chart? 

    Brendan Nosovitch, Connor Mitch and Perry Orth are all fighting to land the No. 2 quarterback spot. 

    While Nosovitch looked like the early favorite, he has struggled this spring. While he is more of a running threat, Mitch and Orth are showing the skills to be better in the passing game. 

    Mitch is a highly coveted prospect coming off a redshirt season. Head coach Steve Spurrier seems to have his eye on Mitch as the man of the future, which could affect his decision. 

    According to, Orth may be a walk-on, but Spurrier likes the zip he puts on the ball and his strong mechanics. Orth looks very coachable right now and could emerge more this spring.

    Early on, I expected Nosovitch to be the backup, but more signs are pointing toward Mitch taking that role.  

Offensive Guard

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    Na'Ty Rodgers hasn't had the best spring so far. An arrest and ensuing suspension set him back a little bit, though he is still in a position battle for the starting spot at right guard with Cody Waldrop. 

    Both are young talents. Waldrop is the bigger of the two, though Rodgers may have higher upside. He just needs to show it. Waldrop also is in contention to start at center. 

    Rodgers was a solid 4-star offensive tackle/guard combination recruit out of high school and has the skills to be a strong option on the offensive line for years to come. He just needs to avoid off-field issues and let his effort on the field do the talking. 

    I see Waldrop winning the starting nod at center, which opens up the right guard spot for Rodgers. 

'Spur' Linebacker

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    L.G. Patterson

    Last spring, the battle for the "Spur" linebacker went down to the wire. Sharrod Golightly snagged the starting role from Jordan Diggs with his experience and leadership. 

    Diggs provides a more athletic option and is having a great spring so far. In addition to his athleticism, Diggs offers more size and length without giving up speed and on-field awareness.  

    At the moment, Diggs is even with Golightly who is battling minor injuries. I think Diggs will jockey through the offseason and ultimately swipe the starting spot from Golightly.