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Sizing up early enrollees (offense)

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Sizing up early enrollees (offense)

January 10, 2018

The group was greeted by coach Will Muschamp on Tuesday, arriving at Columbia for the spring semester, which begins Jan. 16.

In this two-part series, we take a look at the early enrollees. Part 1: offense

QB Dakereon Joyner

From Muschamp: “[A record of] 40-3 as a starting quarterback and the word that comes to mind is intangibles. They really jump out at you. Charismatic young man who positively affects everyone around him.”

Early impact? Jake Bentley is back, after starting the last 20 games for South Carolina, so Joyner will have his work cut out for him to win the No. 1 job. But if the Gamecocks want to play a quarterback who can beat defenses with his legs, Joyner is the man for that.

RB Lavonte Valentine
From Muschamp: “He will run track as well, here at South Carolina. He did injure his knee this past fall. He’s working through the rehab with that. … He’s got a 4.0 GPA, extremely intelligent young man, bright student.”

Early impact? South Carolina’s top-4 running backs are set to return, and they’re all juniors. Because Valentine is coming off the knee injury, there’s no need to rush him back to action.

RB Deshaun Fenwick
From Muschamp: “Extremely talented, big back. Tough, hard-nosed runner, really good hands out of the backfield, really good blocker, extremely bright, but this is a big, explosive back that we’re excited about.”

Early impact? With so many running backs returning, playing time could be at a premium for Fenwick, but he’s got the body to contribute on Day 1 as a special teams player, at the very least.

WR Darius Rush
From Muschamp: “Was really impressive at camp our first year, two years ago. Played quarterback, receiver, running back, defensive back, was a kick returner, really did everything for C.E. Murray [High School, Greeleyville, S.C.]. Was a state champ in the long-jump and triple.”

Early impact? Rush could end up playing on the defensive side of the ball, where he would have a clearer path to playing time, because of the defections from the secondary. South Carolina’s top-4 wide receivers are back in 2018.

OL Maxwell Iyama
From Muschamp: “Great frame, very athletic, a guy that’s just got a tremendous upside as a player. We improve athletically with a guy like this, who can climb on the second level. Has the length and athleticism to block in space, but also has the power in his lower body to continue to grow.”

Early impact? Iyama could be the Gamecocks’ starting left tackle one day, but that probably won’t happen in 2018. Not many freshmen are equipped to win that position. Plus, Dennis Daley, the starter in 2017, is back for his senior campaign.

OL Wyatt Campbell
From Muschamp: “Another guy that came to camp and earned it. So much of playing offensive line is the intangible quality that you’re looking for and coach [Eric] Wolford was really excited about his effort in camp and his toughness and how he displayed that.”

Early impact? Campbell’s coming off a knee injury, but it wasn’t as severe as Valentine’s, so he should be ready to roll by spring practice. However, Campbell is expected to redshirt.

OC Hank Manos
From Muschamp: “This guy is a state champion wrestler, was undefeated as a junior. He’s a 6-4, 275-pounder. He had to keep it at 275, because that’s the weight limit of the heavyweight [divison], so there’s no telling how big Hank is going to get when he actually gets on campus.”

Early impact? The Under Armour All-American will have a chance to win the starting center job this spring. He’s set to compete with a redshirt freshman, but could see more competition if Wolford moves someone else to the spot.

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