Whole Nine Sports

2020 South Carolina Gamecocks Team Preview

South Carolina football
Photo by Jeff Blake, USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Habursky
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This past season was a tough one for South Carolina. The highlight of their season was upsetting Georgia early in the season. Despite an up and down season, they had some bright spots in a lot of different areas. One was Javon Kinlaw, who heard his name called in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Let’s take a look at what South Carolina is dealing with in 2020 and some of their top draft prospects.

QB

Ryan Hilinski
Photo from Gamecock Football

Jake Bentley started the first game against rival North Carolina and was nothing better than atrociously bad. From there, true freshman Ryan Hilinski took over. Hilinski was a 4 star recruit coming into Columbia and had a lot of hype around him. He faced some bumps in the road in his first year, but the talent was definitely there. He doesn’t get enough national attention when talking about 2022 quarterbacks. I’m a big fan of Hilinski and am excited to see him in 2020. Collin Hill, a grad transfer from Colorado State, will be the backup.

RB

MarShawn Lloyd
Photo from thestate.com

South Carolina lost both Rico Dowdle and Tavien Feaster to graduation. One of the more underrated duos in the country now will need to be replaced. With not much behind them last season, the favorite to start in week 1 is MarShawn Lloyd. The true freshman arrived to campus early this winter and looked to have a promising start in some practice clips. He was a 4 star recruit and a top 5 RB in the 2020 recruiting class. He and Hilinski are a young duo on offense that will be fun to watch. Kevin Harris should also compete for touches along the way.

WR

Shi Smith
Photo by South Carolina Athletics

Over the past two years, the Gamecocks have produced two top 100 picks at WR. Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards were very productive for SC and now that they are both gone they will need some other guys to step up. Shi Smith has been in the mix for a couple years now. He’s back for his senior year and will be Hilinski’s primary target. Smith is listed at 5’10”, 190 and is a very explosive athlete. With a productive season, he could be the third consecutive wide receiver drafted from this program. Josh Vann and Xavier Legette are junior and sophomore receivers, respectively. They’ll be in the mix after Smith, along with true freshman Mike Wyman.

TE

Nick Muse
Photo by South Carolina Athletics

Will Register returns at tight end and is a redshirt junior. He will be a big contributor in this offseason, but likely won’t be the starting tight end. Nick Muse is a grad transfer from William & Mary. Muse is coming off of a torn ACL, but will be an important addition to the program.

OL

Dylan Wonnum
Photo by South Carolina Athletics

Sadarius Hutcherson and Dylan Wonnum are the two draft-eligible names we need to know from South Carolina. Dylan is the brother of D.J. Wonnum, former SC defensive end who went in the 4th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Dylan Wonnum will slot in at right tackle and Hutcherson at left guard. Jakai Moore is a second year player who has a good shot at coming in at left tackle on day 1. Hank Manos and Jovaughn Gwyn will slot in on the interior to fill out a generally experienced offensive line.

DL

Zacch Pickens
Photo by South Carolina Athletics

Zacch Pickens is back on the interior as a sophomore and will be a key player in replacing Javon Kinlaw. The other defensive tackle spot will be filled by a rotation of Keir Thomas, Kingsley Enagbare, and Rick Sandidge. Aaron Sterling and Brad Johnson are veteran pass rushers who will come off the edge. Will Muschamp has done a phenomenal job with recruiting, continuing this year with 5 star defensive end Jordan Burch. The true freshman will compete for snaps early on and should see a lot of playing time.

LB

Ernest Jones
Photo by South Carolina Athletics

There is a lot to be proven in this linebacker group in 2020. Ernest Jones led the team in tackles in 2019 with 97. He is a junior and could declare after this season if he so chooses. Sherrod Greene and Jahmar Brown will also look to contribute in an inexperienced linebacking core. Muschamp landed 4 star recruit Mohamed Kaba this past offseason as well. If he can add weight quickly, then he also may be a contributor.

DB

Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu
Photo by Petre Thomas, Spurs and Feathers

South Carolina goes into 2020 with one of the best secondaries in the SEC. This is the highlight of their team because it is infused with future first round picks. Jaycee Horn highlights the group and returns for his junior season at corner. The son of Joe Horn, Jaycee brings good size and length to the position. Listed at 6’1”, 200, Horn is not only big, but is also very fluid for the position and has the ability to play inside and outside. Horn has the physical tools to be a first round pick and is one of the top corners in the country.

You can’t talk about length without mentioning Israel Mukuamu. He’s listed at 6’4”, 205 and is not afraid to get up on the line and get physical. Mukuamu is a freak athlete who very well could be a first round pick come April, not to mention the fearsome pairing with Horn. Jammie Robinson played a significant amount as a freshman in 2019 and is back at safety, along with R.J. Roderick, who was a starter for most of last season.