South Carolina Football: The Next Superstars of the Gamecocks

Adam Garrett@lifeofagamecockAnalyst IFebruary 29, 2012

South Carolina Football: The Next Superstars of the Gamecocks

0 of 4

    There are a few players who are key reasons why South Carolina has been successful the last two seasons. USC has enjoyed some of their greatest success in their football history.

    They are: Alshon Jeffery, Marcus Lattimore, Stephon Gilmore and Melvin Ingram.

    These are players who have changed the face of South Carolina football for the better and have laid the groundwork for future stars of the Gamecocks.

    South Carolina expects 2012 to be another great season and there are a few players on the roster or soon to enroll who can be considered candidates to be the next superstars of South Carolina football.

    Here's a look at a few of them.

1: QB Connor Shaw

1 of 4

    Connor Shaw was thrust into the starting role for the first game of the season and then took over full time against Kentucky later in the year. It was kind of an unknown with Connor Shaw, but the potential was definitely there.

    Shaw went 8-1 as a starter in 2011 but he really shined at the end of the year against Clemson and Nebraska. Shaw's numbers in those two games were 25-of-37 for 440 yards with five touchdowns passing and zero interceptions.

    He also rushed for 149 yards with two rushing touchdowns.

    Shaw's emergence at the end of the year and the on-the-job training he received in 2011 has him primed for a big year in 2012. South Carolina was probably worried about the quarterback position heading into this season.

    Not anymore.

    ESPN thinks 2012 could be a return of the quarterbacks in the SEC and Connor Shaw is a big reason why. He's got the right attitude, talent and work ethic to become one of the best in the SEC.

    He's a potential superstar for the Gamecocks beginning in 2012.

2: DE Jadeveon Clowney

2 of 4

    The No. 1 recruit in the nation for 2011 started off with a bang for the Gamecocks in his freshman year.

    Jadeveon Clowney made a name for himself in the second game of the year with two sacks and finished the season with 36 total tackles including eight sacks on the year.

    It was a great year for the true freshman, but he struggled at times and was in the shadow of former Gamecock great Melvin Ingram.

    The spotlight will turn to Clowney in 2012. He will become a starter from the first game of the season and big things are expected of him. He has the in-game experience now and should be able to learn how to play at a high level.

    Few highlight reels rivaled Jadeveon Clowney's highlights coming out of high school, and some consider him a "freak of nature." All the athleticism, ability and talent is legit, and look for it to make a big impact in 2012 and for Clowney's name to be recognized all across college football.

3: RB Mike Davis

3 of 4

    One of South Carolina's top recruits for 2012 has a chance to replace a Gamecock great at the running back position.

    Mike Davis comes to Columbia this fall with the idea that he will eventually become the replacement for Marcus Lattimore. Davis has everything teams look for in an all-purpose back. He can do a bit of everything, which is exactly what South Carolina needs when Marcus Lattimore moves on to the next level.

    Davis was a long-time Florida commitment before dropping that commitment in early December. South Carolina was the team to beat, and eventually signed the 4-star running back. Everyone is looking forward to seeing what he can do on the field.

    Mike Davis has power, vision, elusiveness and enough speed to make things happen. He should be able to maintain the strong running game that Marcus Lattimore brought with him to Columbia for years to come.

4: WR Shaq Roland

4 of 4

    Just as someone has to replace Marcus Lattimore, someone will have to replace Alshon Jeffery.

    Say hello to Shaq Roland.

    The star athlete out of Lexington, South Carolina has the pedigree to become the next great wide receiver at South Carolina. He's a dual-sport athlete excelling at football and basketball and can play multiple positions in college including wide receiver or defensive back.

    He also has experience in running the Wildcat quarterback position.

    South Carolina needs him at wide receiver and he could step up and be the next Alshon Jeffery for the Gamecocks. He stands 6'1", but his basketball background helps him with his leaping ability to go up and make the tough catch. He's a shifty player who can make defenders miss and seems fluid running routes.

    There's a lot to like about Shaq Roland, and although he hasn't stepped on campus yet, he's got the look of a superstar for the Gamecocks.