Sidney Rice and Johnathan Joseph Top NFL Free Agency

Alex RobertsCorrespondent IJuly 25, 2011

MEMPHIS, TN - DECEMBER 29:  Sidney Rice #4 of the South Carolina Gamecocks celebrates after catching a touchdown pass against the Houston Cougars during the AutoZone Liberty Bowl at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on December 29, 2006 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

South Carolina has made another huge step in establishing the legitimacy of its program... and while it may not be much of an impact to the 2011 Gamecocks, who according to most media outlets look poised to be one of the best teams in the SEC, it is still a huge sign of forward progress.

Two of the top 10 free agents heading into this lockout-shortened free agency period, happen to be South Carolina Gamecocks, according to ESPN.

Sidney Rice has established himself as a legitimate NFL deep threat.  Watching him as a Viking, you see flashes of the dominance he showed on the football field in Garnet and Black.

Johnathan Joseph is widely regarded as one of the top man-to-man defensive backs in the NFL.  Some even say he is the second-best overall corner behind Nnamdi Asomugha.  His large frame and killer instinct helped him form an elite corner tandem in Cincinnati alongside Leon Hall.

When recruiting, many high school athletes would love to see this article.  Current stars on the Gamecock squad look as though they may be headed along that elite path. 

Alshon Jeffery is a better version of Sidney Rice.  Stephon Gilmore is a smarter version of Johnathan Joseph.  Marcus Lattimore would be a first-round pick today.  He has the most NFL-ready body of any running back coming out of college, and the closest thing to Adrian Peterson anyone has seen.

Devin Taylor will be a force coming off the edge on Sundays, Travian Robertson has the skills to be an NFL player, and let's be serious, if it was possible, the Carolina Panthers may have drafted Jadeveon Clowney first overall in last year's draft.

The Gamecocks are blazing an NFL trail unheard of for the program.  While they have a long way to go to catch up to the NFL factory schools like Auburn, Alabama, Ohio State and Southern Cal, they are headed in their own positive direction. 

It's great to be a Gamecock.