Post-spring depth chart: OL and TE

With spring practice in the books and the 2012 season rapidly approaching, GamecockAnthem takes a look at the 2012 post-spring depth chart and which incoming player is most likely to make an impact this fall. In part two of the five-part series, we take a look at the offensive line and tight end.

Left tackle

1. Brandon Shell –
Shell very well could be the one of the biggest recruits in head coach Steve Spurrier's tenure at South Carolina. The offensive line has always been a weak spot in the Spurrier Era, but the hiring of offensive line coach Shawn Elliott went a long way in correcting those problems. One of Elliott's best days as a Gamecock had to be the day Shell sent in his LOI last year on Signing Day. The 6'6, 331 pound Shell already has the size and build of a potential NFL lineman. Still, this will be his first year of college football and he still has to prove himself. Quarterback Connor Shaw will feel pretty comfortable with Shell protecting his blind side.

2. Corey Robinson – When scanning the football field on any given day it is not hard to find Robinson. Even among the offensive line, the 6'8, 337 pound Robinson stands out. Despite having all the size and talent that Robinson has, his work ethic has always been his weak spot. The coaching staff tried moving him to the defensive line last season, but Robinson never panned out. Now back on the offensive line Robinson again finds himself in a back-up role. If he hopes to find the field this season he must improve or else he will get buried in the depth chart again.

Freshman most likely to make an impact:

Brock Stadnik –
Stadnik is a highly-rated tackle out of North Carolina. The 6'5, 285 pound Stadnik enrolled in January, but was unable to go through spring practice after undergoing shoulder surgery. Stadnik still has a jump on the other tackles coming this summer and could move up to second on the depth chart if Robinson does not perform. Stadnik has the best opportunity of any of the incoming offensive linemen to get on the field.

Left guard

1. A.J. Cann –
Outside of Center T.J. Johnson, Cann enters this season with the most experience. He and Johnson are the only two players that started all 13 games last season. Cann had some ups and downs early in the year, but was a Freshman All-American by the end of the season. With Cann and Shell on the left side, Shaw should have plenty of blind side protection and running back Marcus Lattimore should have some running lanes behind the duo.

2. Kenny Davis – You just keep waiting to see him burst onto the scene. The fifth-year senior made the move to the offensive line last spring in hopes of getting him on the field more often. Davis did not play last season and he better watch his back this season as there are two incoming guards that want to get on the field.

Freshman most likely to make an impact:

Joe Harris –
He is a monster in the making. Over the course of his junior season in high school, Harris weighed in at over 330 pounds, but trimmed down to a healthy 309 for his senior season. He is extremely athletic, playing basketball and wrestling, and very strong, claiming to squat 500 pounds. Harris is a player that could contribute right away, but will have to push past Davis to get the nod.

Center

1. T.J. Johnson –
Johnson enters his fifth year and the senior will be the anchor of a relative inexperienced offensive line that will feature two new starters. Johnson has started every game since he redshirted his freshman season and will be looking to make his 41st consecutive start in a Gamecock uniform when the team travels to Nashville to open the 2012 season. He has been a highly decorated lineman his entire career and the Gamecocks will lean on that experience throughout the season.

2. Kyle Harris – Harris will be in his first year at the center position after switching from guard. Harris saw limited action in three games last season before suffering a season-ending injury. Harris applied for and was granted a medical redshirt and will enter the 2012 season as a redshirt freshman. Harris' goal is simple this season; learn the position from a guy that has nearly 30 games of experience at the position. Harris will be in line to be the man in 2013 at center.

Freshman most likely to make an impact:

Clayton Stadnik –
Yes, there are two of them. Brock Stadnik's twin brother, Clayton, is the only center that was signed in the recruiting class. Like Brock, Clayton enrolled in January and Clayton was able to go through spring drills. Stadnik is still relatively new to the center position after taking an unusual path to the position. As a freshman, Stadnik played receiver and corner. Six inches taller and nearly 100 pounds heavier, Stadnik finished his first full season under center his senior season. Elliot likes to move players around on the line and Stadnik obviously has some athletic ability to play guard and center his final two years of high school, so Stadnik could end up anywhere on the line. He will likely redshirt to put on some more muscle and weight, but could be pushed into some action if Johnson or Harris suffers an injury.

Right guard

1. Ronald Patrick –
Patrick moved to the guard position last season as a back-up, but played in nine games. After backing up Johnson in 2010, Patrick moved back to his familiar position and this season should step into the starting line-up this season.

2. Kaleb Broome – Broome enrolled at Carolina last season after spending his first two years at Georgia Military College. Broome is very large and very strong, but struggled with the move to Division I football and did not play last season. Like Davis at left guard, Broome may see some playing time but he also has a freshman coming in that will be gunning for his spot.

Freshman most likely to make an impact:

Cody Waldrop –
Like Harris, Waldrop will enroll over the summer and is already built for the college game. The 6'3, 310 pounder from Florida will be ready to move up the depth chart when he steps on campus. He and Harris must learn the playbook and the coaching style of Elliott, but both could earn back-up roles over the course of the season.

Right tackle

1. Mike Matulis -
Matulis and Cody Gibson battled it out last season after the injury to Kyle Nunn, and Matulis eventually won the battle and joined Cann as a first-team Freshman All-American. Matulis came a long way from the freshman that often appeared lost in his first start against Auburn, and despite shoulder surgery, should be the favorite to start at tackle again this season.

2. Cody Gibson – With Matulis out for the spring, Gibson got plenty of snaps and had a solid spring. It wasn't good enough to unseat Matulis as the starter, but the experience of getting those reps gives Elliott a solid back-up. Elliott should be pretty happy with the depth at the position.

Freshman most likely to make an impact:

Mason Zandi –
Zandi doesn't have quite the size of Stadnik, but still has plenty of it at 260 pounds. Zandi will need to put a little more weight on when he gets on campus and work on his strength. He will likely end up redshirting, but could be a player to make an impact down the road.

Tight end

1. Justice Cunningham –
Cunningham is the tight end you love to have. He's big, physical, blocks well, and is a threat to catch the ball. He has a lot of speed for his size and was fourth on the team in receptions last season.

2. Rory Anderson – Anderson is a solid tight end in his own right. He isn't as large as Cunningham and not the blocker that Cunningham is, but he was a legitimate threat in the passing game last season with three touchdowns and a 55-yard reception, the second longest reception on the team. It will be Cunningham and Anderson in the double-tight end sets, but Drew Owens could push for some playing time.

Freshman most likely to make an impact:

Kelvin Rainey –
Rainey gets the nod over Jerrell Adams based on the fact that he was on campus for the spring and Adams was at Fork Union Military College. Rainey had his moments, but looked like a freshman far too often. Adams will eventually surpass Rainey and Rainey could end up going the redshirt route.


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