South Carolina's first game against Southern Miss is only a few weeks away, and the fans cannot wait for what is expected to be a very big year for South Carolina.
This season, each position will play a vital part in the process of bringing South Carolina an SEC Championship.
This season, I will be bringing a weekly positional power ranking. Much like journalists do for leagues and conferences but with a twist.
Each week, all of South Carolina's positions will be ranked according to the performances that they have on the field (stock market style).
However, on paper, there is a clear cut best and worst position on this team. Without further ado, here are South Carolina's positional rankings!
1. Defensive Backs
South Carolina has many playmakers ready to step up this year. Stephon Gilmore is arguably the best athlete on the entire team. Chris Culliver, C.C. Whitlock, Akeem Auguste, and DeVonte Holloman are all great players. This is a deep and talented position, and it enters the season as the No. 1 unit.
2. Wide Receiver
Another deep position with talent is wide receivers as it comes in a respectable second in the preseason rankings. Alshon Jeffery and Tori Gurley have the potential to be elite players. Jason Barnes, Dion LeCorn, D.L. Moore, and DeMario Bennett all have skills.
There is a lot of talent at this position. Rodney Paulk returns from injury and should provide veteran talent and leadership. Shaw Wilson has great ability for an undersized linebacker. Josh Dickerson and Toquavius Gilchrist will play major roles as well as the "spur" players—Antonio Allen and Demario Jeffery.
4. Running Back
This is a group to watch.
Many talented players are in this group, and once it produces it should shoot up the list.
Kenny Miles is a great workmanlike back. Jarvis Giles has speed to burn. Brian Maddox is a GREAT power back. Bryce Sherman could play a role, and of course, everyone is expecting great things from freshman Marcus Lattimore.
The fullbacks are also a part of this group, and Patrick DeMarco (who also plays tight end) could have a big season.
Stephen Garcia could have a monstrous breakout season, or he could be average and lose his spot to freshman Connor Shaw.
After the great quarterback exodus of 2009-10 that saw SC lose three quarterbacks, there is not a great deal of depth behind these two. Zac Brandise and Andrew Clifford could be good, but there isn't enough experience here to warrant higher than a five ranking.
6. Tight Ends
Controversy surrounds current starter and potential NFL draftee Weslye Saunders. A big body with soft hands, Saunders could be an elite SEC starter if he stays focused.
Justice Cunningham has talent and size to spare. Pat DiMarco should also see time here, and he has proven (as a fullback) to have excellent hands. This is another position to watch.
7. Defensive Line
Some of South Carolina's best players could potentially be here. Cliff Matthews, Devin Taylor, Travian Robertson, and Ladi Ajiboye could have big years. Why do I have them ranked so low? Lack of depth.
8. Special Teams
South Carolina has a great kicker in Spencer Lanning. However, the kickoff specialist is still a question mark, and kick coverage was horrendous last year.
Chris Culliver and Bryce Sherman are great kickoff men, and Stephon Gilmore is a reliable punt returner. Fix the coverage, and this glaring problem from last year becomes a team strength.
9. Offensive Line
This position has to be last coming into the season. Nine players weigh over three HUNDRED pounds, but they must get used to Coach Shawn Elliot's new scheme. This area must improve for South Carolina to have any success.
Check back after the Southern Miss game to see the risers and fallers within the team.