South Carolina released their depth chart for spring practice earlier this week and while it is still five and a half months until the season kicks off and position battles will be won and lost, I found the starter at the running back position to be surprising.
Currently, Mike Davis is listed as the top tailback for Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks and the 5-9 rising sophomore is coming off a freshman campaign that saw him carry the ball 52 times for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Davis worked as the backup to Marcus Lattimore and Kenny Miles who are both gone this season, but he failed to impress me when he was given an extended audition after Lattimore’s injury ended his season.
The player that I view as the best pure running back on this team is Brandon Wilds who missed all of 2012 with an ankle injury, but is healthy now and ready to take the starting position away from Davis in spring practice.
Wilds was the starter in 2011 after Lattimore tore his ACL vs. Mississippi State and looked like a Lattimore clone when he was out on the field. At 6-2 and 220-pounds he has the size to run people over and enough speed and wiggle to run away from defenders.
During his first four starts in place of Lattimore, Wilds ran for more than 100 yards three times, averaging 122 yards in those contests and proved to be a threat as a receiver out of the backfield.
Once Wilds shakes the rust off in spring practice, I fully expect him to ascend to the top of the depth chart and assume the starting tailback duties for the Gamecocks in 2013.
Davis can be an effective reserve and will still get plenty of touches, but Wilds has so much more upside and potential that can’t be wasted on the bench.
Other candidates to get carries this season include rising sophomore Shon Carson and redshirt freshman Kendric Salley.