South Carolina Gamecocks: Receivers Must Step Up Play

Jeff Griffith, USA TODAY SPORTS

The South Carolina Gamecocks had an outstanding season in 2012, posting an 11-2 record under head coach Steve Spurrier. If the 2013 season is to go as well as last season, the Gamecocks must find some help at the wide receiver position.

Gone from last year’s team is the top receiver, Ace Sanders, who caught a team-high 45 passes for 531 yards and a team-leading nine touchdowns. Sanders was the go-to guy for Spurrier last season, and his presence on the offense will definitely be missed.

South Carolina does return Bruce Ellington, who actually led the Gamecocks in receiving yards last season with 600. Ellington, who also plays guard for the South Carolina basketball team, also caught seven touchdowns in 2012.

But Ellington can’t be the only receiver that quarterbacks Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson have to target. The signal callers, as well as Spurrier, need other players to step up in the absence of Sanders.

The primary candidate to become a star is Damiere Byrd, who caught only 14 passes last season, but averaged 26.1 yards per reception. A speed demon, Byrd caught three touchdowns last season and was third on the team in receiving yards with 366.

Another player that needs to step up his play for the Gamecocks is Nick Jones, who caught only 12 passes last season. However, Jones appears to be in line for a starting position this season, and his emergence could be key for the Gamecocks.

Shaq Roland is another candidate for significant playing time this season. The coaching staff has questioned Roland’s focus in the past, but he has shown flashes of brilliance at times. Last season, Roland caught only five passes, but he did average 16 yards per catch, and scored one touchdown.

Spurrier is going to throw the ball this season, with Shaw and Thompson both seeing playing time. The Gamecocks need someone to step up to be another good candidate for receptions if they hope to make strides in the Southeastern Conference.

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