COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina football co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon is preparing all of his freshmen for playing time.
That’s the policy across the Gamecocks entire roster, not just the wide receiver group. Plans for who redshirts and who plays in 2017 won’t be made until later this month.
“We’re getting everybody ready to play and when it gets a little bit closer to [the end of camp], that’s when I’m sure some decisions will be made. … We want to get guys ready to play,” McClendon said. “We want to get guys in there competing and having guys fighting for playing time and fighting for starting jobs.”
At least two freshmen wide receivers already appear to be on track for playing time in 2017. OrTre Smith, who enrolled in January, emerged as the first candidate.
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“One, [Smith] had that [ankle] injury when first came in here in the spring, so that kind of had him gimped up a little bit last spring,” McClendon said. “This fall camp, the one thing I’ve been real impressed with him is just knowing what to do. I think, him being here for so long, it has helped him.
“That’s the biggest thing for him right now, just knowing what to do. Once we do that, we can figure out exactly how to do it. Him knowing and learning what to do has probably been the biggest thing that’s impressed me so far.”
Shi Smith and Chad Terrell joined OrTre before the end of May and it didn’t take long for Shi to convince his teammates and coaches that he’ll be ready to contribute this fall.
“I think [Shi] has a lot of ability, a lot of ability, but he’s still one of those young players that, unfortunately, freshmen make freshmen mistakes, at times,” McClendon said. “A lot of that stuff just comes with reps, so we’ve just got to make sure we do a good job of getting him work, getting him caught up with how we do things. He’s an athlete. He’s a talented young man.”
The last three days of camp, McClendon said, have been “a lot better” for Terrell, at 6-foot-3, 212-pound receiver with a big-body receiver like OrTre (6-4, 219).
“[Terrell’s] a really sharp kid, kind of overanalyzes stuff, because he’s so intellectual about everything. Some of that stuff, you’ve just got to go out there and get to it,” McClendon said. “At first, he was playing slow, then he kind of started to crank it up a bit more and play at the tempo we need him to play at. Now, he’s still not there, but he’s a lot better.”