The South Carolina Gamecocks had another outstanding season in 2013, finishing with 11 wins for the third straight year. That marks the first time in school history that the South Carolina program has accomplished that feat. South Carolina finished fourth in both the Associated Press and USA Today polls.
Many think that the Gamecocks will be in rebuilding mode next season. Several big pieces of the 2013 team have either run out of eligibility or decided to take their talents to the NFL. Among those not returning for next season are starting quarterback Connor Shaw, stud defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles, cornerback Victor Hampton and wide receiver Bruce Ellington.
However, don’t think that the cupboard is bare in Columbia. Steve Spurrier will have quite a bit of talent returning for 2014, especially on offense.
The most important replacement will be at quarterback. Dylan Thompson is set to be the full-time starter in 2014, which will be his senior season. In 2013, Thompson played in 10 games, passing for 783 yards and four touchdowns. He also had three rushing scores. In 2012, Thompson passed for 1,027 yards and 10 touchdowns in 11 games, so he has been through the fire before.
Also returning in 2014 is running back Mike Davis, who rushed for 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns, both team bests, in 2013. Davis will be joined by Shon Carson and Brandon Wilds in the backfield.
Thompson should have plenty of targets from the wide receiver position as well. Damiere Byrd returns in 2014, after posting 575 yards receiving and four touchdowns this season. Nick Jones and Shaq Roland, who each had five touchdown receptions, will also be back.
If Spurrier and his staff can get the defense together for the 2014 season, the Gamecocks will be a factor in the Southeastern Conference race once again.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.