South Carolina’s QB situation in 2018; Gamecocks receive early Top 25 buzz

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Trending upward

Entering his third year as South Carolina starting quarterback, rising junior Jake Bentley is just 1 touchdown away from entering the program’s top 10 in career passing scores.

“In each of his first two seasons, Bentley completed more than 60 percent of his passes and gone 13-7 as a starter,” SEC Country’s Hale McGranahan wrote. “The rising junior has passed for 4,214 yards, with 27 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.”

The 6-foot-3 signal caller threw for 2,794 yards in 2017, the seventh-best single-season total in school history.

Quarterback corps

Beyond Bentley, what does the Gamecocks’ quarterback depth chart look like ?

Senior Michael Scarnecchia is best positioned for the primary backup role, though redshirt freshman Jay Urich and freshman Dakereon Joyner could push the upperclassman.

Joyner, a former 4-star prospect and early enrollee, was among South Carolina’s highest-rated signees for the 2018 cycle. The North Charleston, S.C., native was named South Carolina Mr. Football for 2017.

Early buzz

Thanks to a surprising 9-win season in 2017 and a top 20 signing class for 2018, ESPN ranked South Carolina No. 25 in its Way-Too-Early-Top-25 .

“[Will] Muschamp seems to have learned from his mistakes in his first head-coaching stop at Florida; he dismissed offensive coordinator Kurt Roper after the South Carolina offense averaged only 24 points per game,” ESPN analyst Mark Schlabach wrote. “Co-offensive coordinator/receivers coach Bryan McClendon will take over the job full-time after calling plays in the bowl game.”

Schlabach points at the return of two redshirt seniors, wide receiver Deebo Samuel and linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams, as reasons for the Gamecocks to be optimistic in 2018.

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One to watch

With tackling machine Skai Moore graduating, who will patrol sideline to sideline and take over the middle linebacker position for the Gamecocks? According to The Big Spur’s John Del Bianco , the answer is rising sophomore Sherrod Greene.

“As he grows stronger, gets more comfortable with the defense and gets more snaps as a now experienced player, he becomes the linebacker to watch as either [T.J.] Brunson’s backup again or a contender for the starting ‘Will’ linebacker spot with Eldridge Thompson,” Del Bianco wrote, picking Greene as a sophomore to watch in 2018.

Greene made 21 total tackles and 2 passes defensed in 2017.

Looking around

Three-star linebacker and 2019 prospect Ahdarrious Gee is still committed to South Carolina , but he’s checking out all of his options.

The Cordele, Ga., native visited Georgia Tech last weekend and has a few other visits planned. Gee lists offers from Kentucky, Mississippi State, North Carolina State and more.

He’s rated as the No. 21 overall inside linebacker for 2019, per the 247Sports composite.

2 for 1?

Four-star athlete J.R. Walker will visit South Carolina on March 3 , but will his Northeastern High School (Elizabethtown, N.C.) teammate and fellow 4-star prospect Traveon Freshwater join him? That remains to be seen.

Walker is rated as the No. 23 overall athlete for 2019, according to the 247Sports composite. Freshwater is ranked as the No. 8 overall inside linebacker in the class.

‘A really good program’

Five-star defensive end Zacch Pickens was among those 2019 prospects in Columbia for South Carolina’s junior day earlier this year.

“They were saying that they want to build around me because I’ll be a big part of it if I go there,” Pickens said of his visit, via SportsTalk’s Phil Kornblut . “They said I’d be playing my same position. They are all good feelings for them because they are a really good football team and a really good program.”

The 247Sports composite tabs Pickens as the top prospect in the Palmetto State for 2019.

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