South Carolina Gamecocks wide receiver Shaq Roland was one of his team’s shining stars in the Gamecocks’ season opening win against the North Carolina Tar Heels. Roland got off to a fast start in the game and got his sophomore season started on the right note.
South Carolina’s first drive of the game ended with a 65-yard touchdown by Roland on a pass from quarterback Connor Shaw. Roland ran a post pattern and ended up running past the entire North Carolina secondary for an easy catch and score. Roland couldn’t have asked for a better start to his sophomore season.
The Gamecocks were hoping that Roland could have played the way he did last night during his freshman season, as they lacked a big receiving target in 2012 following the early departure of Alshon Jeffery. There were high expectations for Roland in 2012, as he came to Columbia as a five-star recruit and the winner of “Mr. Football” in the state of South Carolina. However, he ended up making only five catches for a total of 80 yards, far from what South Carolina was expecting and hoping to get from him.
But in the season opener against the Tar Heels, Roland looked like a much-improved player and someone ready to make a big leap in production. He ended up making only one other catch in the game after his 65-yard touchdown less than two minutes into the game, although South Carolina only attempted 21 passes and only three receivers made multiple receptions.
This season, the Gamecocks will be relying on Roland to be one of their biggest targets in the passing game, as their most dynamic wide receivers, such as Bruce Ellington, Damiere Byrd, and Nick Jones, are all undersized. He’s not the biggest receiver out there, but the Gamecocks will need Roland to use the size he does have to be a dependable receiver for them. And after one game he’s off to a good start in what could be a breakout sophomore season.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him on Google.