In 2019, Coach Will Muschamp will have his most experienced team at South Carolina. As he has rebuilt this roster, he has been forced to play young players earlier than preferred far too often. After injuries pushed multiple true freshman into action a season ago, most on the depth chart on this team will have game reps under their belt. When building a program, the stage where a coach can play first year guys because of want and not need is a luxury. South Carolina feels like they are at that stage this season. There are, of course, a few Gamecock newcomers who will make an impact immediately. They can provide a spark to this veteran team, without the burden of being forced on the field too soon.
South Carolina Gamecock Newcomers
South Carolina is finally getting closer to the kind of depth coach Muschamp wants at his disposal. They will have a heavy presence of seniors at every position aside from the secondary. There are still a few areas in which the Gamecock newcomers can fill a void, and a few of them who are too talented to keep off the field.
Xavier Legette – Freshman – Wide Receiver
South Carolina will not have Deebo Samuel‘s play making ability to attack defenses with this season. Bryan Edwards and Shi Smith form an excellent receiver tandem, but the group overall lacks a dynamic threat like Samuel. Legette can be that threat. He is as elusive as he is explosive with the ball in his hands. At 6-3, 190 pounds he has the frame to match his athleticism. If a high school quarterback can develop enough as a receiver, the Gamecocks will benefit from getting the ball in his hands.
Jamar Brown – Freshman – Linebacker
South Carolina’s defense needs an upgrade in physicality, at all positions. A healthy roster with the top line guys playing is the biggest key to that. However, there is also the opportunity for someone to step up and bring some nastiness to this defense. Brown has the strength and physique to do just that. His work ethic and competitiveness have been mentioned by multiple teammates during off-season workouts. Brown has good speed, and likes to hit. His attacking nature could get him on the field sooner rather than later. He comes to South Carolina from St. Thomas Aquinas High School, a powerhouse program in South Florida.
Kevin Harris – Freshman – Tailback
Did someone say physicality? South Carolina also struggled converting short yardage runs in 2018. Harris could become a factor in a veteran laden backfield if he can prove to be the remedy to last season’s problem. He runs with a low center of gravity, and has the power and balance to bounce off tacklers and gain tough yards. His physical running style created a buzz during spring practice. Seniors Rico Dowdle and Mon Denson will get the bulk of the carries, but Harris could have a crucial role in improving the run game’s power punch.
Jamel Cook – Junior – Safety
The only upperclassman among the Gamecock newcomers to watch, Cook transferred in from Southern Cal. After sitting out last season, he will get his chance to make an impact in 2019. The 6-4 defensive back adds to an already tall group in the secondary. Muschamp likes having long versatile guys in the defensive backfield. Cook, also from south Florida, can help improve the physicality of the back line of the Gamecocks’ defense. He showed flashes in the spring, but his coach has tried to stress consistency to him. If he can show improvement there, he has the tools to be a play maker in the South Carolina secondary.
Zacch Pickens – Freshman – Defensive Tackle
It is no surprise that the biggest recruit during Will Muschamp’s tenure gets the top spot on this list. Pickens has the potential to be a star along the defensive line. His size and power allow him to battle on the inside, but he also has the agility and quickness to come off the edge. As a five star and top ten recruit in the country, there is an obvious expectation to perform. Pickens is built to live up to that. Despite an abundance experience returning along the defensive line, the freshman from T.L. Hanna will get his chances. He is too talented to keep of the field.