Gone are star playmaking receivers Alshon Jeffery and Bruce Ellington, while standout running back Marcus Lattimore is out rehabbing his surgically repaired left knee. All of it means the Gamecocks and coach Steve Spurrier are looking for replacements and building depth.
Steve Spurrier Jr. said don’t expect answers right away, particularly on who picks up where Jeffery left off.
“Ah, it’s hard to put those shoes out there and ask someone to grade them,” said the younger Spurrier, South Carolina’s wide receivers coach. “Alshon’s gone and we’re going to try and be the best group of receivers we can be with who we have.”
Jeffery is the record-setting wideout who gave up his senior season for the NFL. Ellington was a productive returner, runner and receiver who decided earlier this month to concentrate on basketball instead of playing both as he did this year. And then there’s Lattimore, who had surgery to fix torn knee ligaments in November, an injury that always has a wait-and-see element to it.
Jeffery is the school’s all-time leader with 3,042 yards receiving, the second-highest total in Southeastern Conference history. He was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award after his sophomore season when he set school records with 88 catches and 1,517 yards.
South Carolina’s already settled on the next No. 1, though, as junior Ace Sanders took on Jeffery’s number during the offseason.
“Yeah, I get a few questions about it,” Sanders said Friday.
No. 1 was Sanders number in high school and he had previously asked for it once Jeffery left. Does that mean the 5-foot-7 Sanders is ready to take over?
Sanders thinks all the Gamecocks wideouts will pitch in to do that.
“They were telling us since the end of last season, ‘If he leaves, who’s going to step up and take the throws?” he said. ”
Added to the mix is lanky receiver K.J. Brent, a 6-4 freshman who redshirted last season and is more the mold of the 6-3 Jeffery.