Breaking down the depth chart: Special Teams

Gamecock Anthem continues its look at the 2012 preseason depth chart for the Gamecocks by analyzing the 2012 Special Teams depth chart.

81 Adam Yates 6-1 196 SR-1L Sparks, Md.
47 Landon Ard 5-9 189 FR-RS Rock Hill, S.C.

•My Thoughts:
The place-kicking position for South Carolina wasn't used much in 2011. Former Gamecock Jay Wooten only kicked 11 field goals but this is still an important position. Adam Yates appears to have the leg up on the competition at practice due to experience and performance.

•True Freshman in the Mix?
Nick St. Germain received his qualifying score after his test score was flagged by the NCAA. The true freshman has done a nice job competing with the other kickers and is someone who could be in the mix if he continues to improve.

84 Michael Williamson 6-1 190 JR-SQ Norway, S.C.
85 Patrick Fish 6-0 193 SO-SQ Shelby, N.C.

•My Thoughts:
The punter position has been inconsistent since spring practice. Williamson has the leg and ability to win the position this fall but the question with him remains consistency. Patrick Fish doesn't appear to be making a push for the position.

•True Freshman in the mix?
He's not a true freshman but walk-on punter Tyler Hull has been impressive in a short time in Columbia. Coach Spurrier even mentioned after Saturday's scrimmage that Hull will likely be the punter this year for the Gamecocks.

Kickoff Specialist:
81 Adam Yates 6-1 196 SR-1L Sparks, Md.
OR 47 Landon Ard 5-9 189 FR-RS Rock Hill, S.C.

•My Thoughts:
Adam Yates has to be the front-runner here with his game experience dating back to 2009. Ard has the strength to be effective in this role but Yates will likely win out in the end.

•True Freshman in the mix?
Just like the place-kicker position, Nick St. Germain is a guy battling to earn the kickoff specialist position. He's like Ard with great leg strength but came he overcome the veteran Yates.

91 Walker Inabinet 5-10 204 SR-2L Columbia, S.C.
62 Davis Moore 6-0 217 JR-SQ Buford, Ga.

•My Thoughts:
Inabinet took over as the long-snapper for the Gamecocks in 2011 and was recently given a scholarship for his senior season. He's the penciled-in starter for the Gamecocks.

•True Freshman in the mix?
There appear to be no true freshman in the mix at this time for long-snapper.

Kick Returner:
23 Bruce Ellington 5-9 197 SO-1L Moncks Corner, S.C.
27 Victor Hampton 5-10 197 SO-1L Darlington, S.C.
3 Damiere Byrd 5-9 168 SO-1L Sicklerville, N.J.

•My Thoughts:
This is a dangerous group. A lot of speed, quickness and big-play potential out of these three. Hampton was the leader kick returner last year with a 25.4 yard average but may be too valuable on defense to risk an injury. This appears to be a perfect place to use Ellington and Byrd to utilize their breakaway speed on the return. South Carolina should get immediate value out of Ellington and Byrd as kick returners.

•True Freshman in the mix?
Shaq Roland might be a candidate for a crack at the kick returner position. He seems the most likely of the freshman group to have a shot here, but will likely be used in another role on special teams.

Punt Returner:
9 Ace Sanders 5-8 175 JR-2L Bradenton, Fla.

•My Thoughts:
Ace Sanders enjoyed great success early in 2011 in the punt return game with a 68-yard touchdown return against East Carolina. His season average was 9.3 yards per return but it's much higher due to the long touchdown return. He seems to have stepped up his role on offense so look for Sanders to have a bigger role as the Gamecocks' punt returner.

•True Freshman in the mix?
This is the position where Shaq Roland could make an impact on special teams. The freshman from Lexington, South Carolina has the vision, quickness and agility to become a valuable punt returner for the Gamecocks. He'll have to beat out Ace Sanders but could find himself returning punts this season if Sanders falters.

11 Seth Strickland 6-2 195 SR-2L Laurens, S.C.
85 Patrick Fish 6-0 193 SO-SQ Shelby, N.C.

•My Thoughts:
Seth Strickland has served as the Gamecocks' holder on special teams for the past two seasons. He's been steady in this position and there is no need to make a change now.

•True Freshman in the mix?
There appears to be no true freshman in the mix at this time.
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