Scanning The Wide Receivers

Steve Spurrier, Jr's wide receiver corp will play an important role in any success the Gamecock offense might realize this season ...

South Carolina's Steve Spurrier .Jr., will not have a problem fielding an aggressive and capable receiving corp in his first year as the wide receiver coach under his Dad, Steve Spurrier, Sr. He will however, depend upon several true freshmen, a couple of former walk-ons with experience and some otherwise unknown existing receivers to add to his depth.

SRs JRs SOs RFR FR Prospects
Kris Clark Syvelle Newton Travis Lee Sidney Rice Carlos Thomas Moe Brown
Michael Flint Noah Whiteside D'Von Hill   O.J. Murdock Tori Childers
    Tim Frisby   Freddie Brown Chris Slaughter
    Le'Moriell Williams   Jared Cook Quinton Hancock
        Kenny McKinley Tim Hawthorne
          Lamarckus Boswell
          Dominic Brown
          ... and others.

Consider it a given that Syvelle Newton and Sidney Rice are already penciled in as starters, although we believe Rice will be pushed for the honor by either Carlos Thomas or O.J. Murdock or both. Noah Whiteside, coming off of a serious ankle injury suffered in the Spring Game this past April, one that required surgery, is said to have recovered nicely and he should be back to 100% by the season opener against Central Florida.

Beyond Newton, Rice and Whiteside there are questions.

Kris Clarke and Michael Flint are two hardworking former walk-ons. Both can be counted on for a few reps but neither has prototypical big-time SEC wide receiver skills. They will be asked to overcome and play above their heads at times and both have big enough hearts to do so.

Travis Lee has been almost invisible since his arrival at U.S.C. Much of that might be attributed to the former staff's lack of emphasis on the passing game. Spurrier, Jr., will look to develop Lee into a viable threat that he was thought to be when he was recruited to SC. Many remember his outstanding Shrine Bowl performance against Tennessee's Jonathan Hefney.

Rice and Newton both enter the season with questions that should be answered early. Rice is big enough and has great hands, but speed is not his strong point. His hands and his leaping ability are his strong points which makes him a candidate to be the Gamecocks' possession receiver this fall. Whiteside on the other hand, has speed to burn. At least he did prior to his spring injury and therein lies the question. Will he return with his burners?

Enter Carlos Thomas and O.J. Murdock. Both are heralded prospects with blazing speed and good hands. Both appear to be fearless although they have yet to operate under the pressure of taking the licks across the middle they can expect to receive in the SEC. But both are looking for early playing time and have been preparing for such all summer. Both should be expected to contribute in a big way once practice begins. And the Spurriers are no strangers to playing true freshmen at the wide receiver slot. They'll play the best players at the position and both Thomas and Murdock may fit the bill before ever catching a pass for Carolina.

Kenny McKinley, another true freshman, is a former high school quarterback/athlete that has a huge upside in terms of ability and the tools to work with, especially in the hands of Spurrier, Jr.

Finally, although it is too early to really focus on this too much, expect Carolina to mop up this recruiting season when it comes to wide receivers. Their prospect list is fairly impressive and growing every day. They'll be looking to sign another two or three wide receivers with hands, speed, work ethic and size as attributes and the Spurrier name goes far when shopping for receivers.

Beyond the need to put on a good showing for the prospects this coming season, South Carolina will also need to simply be better than they have been through the air - and they will need to do it early. And while they appear to be in a better situation given their new coaching staff, the Gamecocks will also be facing some of the toughest and most talented secondaries the Southeastern Conference has ever offered this season. In other words the SEC is loaded with secondary talent and of the teams the most loaded, Carolina faces all of them - their only saving grace is that they do not face their own secondary on Saturdays. Meaning this group of wide receivers will get a hefty workout from a very talented Gamecock secondary during the week and that should help them prepare for what they are sure to face come game days this fall.

The bottom line is that Spurrier, Jr., while not loaded, has the tools and talent to improve the Gamecocks' air attack this season provided good friend David Reaves and Spurrier, Sr., can find a quarterback to get Steve Junior's wide receivers the ball. Look for a much improved passing attack and exciting play from the Carolina wideouts in 2005 - not just because Spurrier, Sr., is now at the helm. But also because there is better talent thanks to the new class, a better system to pass under and a new philosophy in terms of a balanced attack. And because Spurrier, Jr., is a developer of talent and he knows how to coach his position - that's important,

This group of Gamecock wide receivers should be fun to watch.

... and Tim Frisby will get his catch this season.

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