In the days of non-stop media coverage of college football, it's hard for any player to truly surprise. But look inside as Gamecock Anthem projects six players who could contribute greatly this season but aren't really being talked about much.
Six who could surprise
Smith is no secret to South Carolina fans who paid attention this spring but is still a general unknown to the rest of the conference. After being slowed by injuries for much of his first two seasons in Columbia, Smith was healthy this spring and proved to be a big-play threat on offense. Smith played in a run-based offense in high school but is one of the more athletic overall players on the team. He's currently listed as the back-up to Alshon Jeffery and D.L. Moore but could be a big factor this year and could even supplant Moore as a starter if he can continue his play from the spring.
With all the talent South Carolina has at the defensive end position now, Sutton is rarely mentioned when fans talk about the upcoming season. Like Smith, Sutton has had his share of injuries in his career but showed signs of breaking out last season and in the spring. Sutton was highly regarded by the staff coming in and as d-line coach Brad Lawing says the light comes on for players at different times. There's always room for another pass-rusher and Sutton could provide valuable depth in that role while setting himself up for a starting spot next season.
All signs point to Stephen Garcia being the Gamecocks' offensive leader and quarterback this season. But it's his final year of eligibility and Shaw needs to get as much experience as possible heading into next season. After a slow start to the spring, Shaw had a strong finish in the final week of practice. Quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus has said that Shaw has all the tools just needs to go play. Shaw should be a valuable back-up in pushing Garcia to perform and be ready to step in if needed due to an injury. Ideally he'll get plenty of snaps in a reserve role too.