Spring review: Stock up

Look inside for five players whose stock is up after the spring.

WR Ace Sanders

(Jeremy Brevard-USPRESSWIRE)
"You can tell he's gotten stronger, faster, bigger -- all the things you kind of look for -- and more confident." -Steve Spurrier, Jr. on Ace Sanders.
Even before the spring started, Ace Sanders was already somewhat penciled in as the top candidate to replace Alshon Jeffery as the Gamecocks' top receiver. Sanders not only seemed to meet those expectations, at least in the spring, but seemed to clearly be the most consistent receiver on the Carolina roster.

Sanders is a completely different type of receiver than Jeffery -- and plays inside in the slot rather than outside at the X position -- but he's been on the field since he was a true freshman, and now as a junior should get plenty of passes thrown his way from quarterback Connor Shaw.

Sanders has always been able to rely on his quickness to get open, but this spring Sanders seemed to be more comfortable in his route running and even despite his smaller stature showed an ability to go up for passes by using good body control and timing his jumps perfectly. Shaw is likely to spread the ball around to multiple receivers, but it won't be a surprise at all to see Sanders finish the season with the most catches of the Gamecock receivers.

TE Drew Owens

Drew Owens came out of nowhere to have a big spring practice.
Last season true freshman tight end Drew Owens was overshadowed by fellow true freshman Rory "Buster" Anderson -- Owens took a redshirt year while Anderson made several big plays in the final half of the season as the team's second string tight end behind Justice Cunningham.

Owens put that offseason to good use and was able to put together a great spring. With plenty of opportunities, partially due to an ankle injury to Anderson, Owens looked much more comfortable catching the football than he did in the fall and combined that with his already great frame to make his presence known in most of the Gamecocks' 14 practices.

Owens is recovering from a knee injury he suffered catching a touchdown pass in the spring game, but should provide depth at a very deep tight end position this fall.

LT Brandon Shell

LT Brandon Shell was named one of South Carolina's most-improved offensive linemen this spring.
A Goose Creek High School product, Brandon Shell was one of the most highly sought after offensive linemen to sign with South Carolina in some time. Shell took a redshirt last season to develop and allow his surgically repaired shoulder to heal, but showed many of the qualities that made him the nation's No. 5 offensive tackle prospect out of high school.

Shell was named the school's most improved offensive lineman (along with redshirt freshman Will Sport) and took snaps at both left tackle and right tackle all spring.

While he still had his teachable moments, going up against Devin Taylor and Jadeveon Clowney in practice every day seemed to help Shell improve and he seemed to get more and more consistent as the spring progressed.

Shell capped off the spring with a nice performance in the spring game and should be the Gamecocks' starting left tackle in the season opener against Vanderbilt.

TB Kenny Miles

(USPRESSWIRE-Jeremy Brevard) Kenny Miles was the team's best running back this spring.
When Kenny Miles went through senior night at the Clemson game, it appeared that his days running the football for South Carolina would soon be over.

But after a strong rushing effort against the Tigers and in the Capital One Bowl against Nebraska, Miles decided to reconsider and potentially return to the team.

Miles showed no signs of being a player with plans of leaving any time soon. He was the team's most consistent runner and looked as quick and as fast as he has in his entire career, reportedly shaving .2 seconds off of his 40-yard-dash time.

Miles will still play a backup role with Marcus Lattimore returning to 100 percent in the summer, but the senior back should provide a stabilizing presence and leadership to a deep running back corps. Miles has done everything he can to give himself a chance to have a big finish to his Carolina career.

DE Jadeveon Clowney

(USPRESSWIRE-Jeremy Brevard) The nation's No. 1 recruit is making the transition to being one of the SEC's top players.
Jadeveon Clowney arrived in Columbia as the most hyped prospect in South Carolina history. The defensive end showed off all the characteristics that gave him that title when he collected eight sacks as a freshman backup last season.

This spring, Clowney appeared to be taking the proper steps to turn all of that potential into production this season.

Clowney still has some steps to take, but was nearly unblockable at times and is much more comfortable with the South Carolina playbook now.

The toughest player to replace for the Gamecock D is now-San Diego Charger Melvin Ingram, who was the most versatile player on that unit for the last two seasons. Clowney will be given the opportunity to show he can take on that role this year as the defensive staff plans to play him inside on passing downs at times and allow him to drop into coverage at times as well.

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