HOOVER, Ala. – All three votes have been tallied. Freshman wide receiver Shi Smith is the fastest player on the South Carolina football team.
The former 4-star recruit from Union County (S.C.) High School got the fastest-man nod from his teammates who attended SEC Media Days on Thursday.
“I’m very curious to see how Shi is going to do when he puts pads on,” junior tight end Hayden Hurst said. “His stuff that he’s put on the field this summer is extremely impressive. We’re hoping Shi can come along and help us this season.”
Earlier this summer, he and Chad Terrell joined OrTre Smith, who enrolled in January, to round out the Gamecocks freshman wide receiver corps.
That seven-month head start, according to Hurst, has been critical in OrTre’s development.
“It’s been huge for him getting with Deebo [Samuel] and getting with Bryan [Edwards], just picking their brains after their experience last season,” Hurst said. “That’s been huge for him, mentally, at this level, because he’s a really strong, gifted kid.”
Apparently, strength isn’t an issue for Terrell, either.
“Chad Terrell is one of the strongest kids I’ve seen come into this program,” Hurst said. “He’s in there on my rack lifting with me, with a broken hand. He’s in a cast and he’s in there squatting with me. He’s impressive.”
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With freshman Jay Urich now in the fold, he, sophomore Jake Bentley and junior Michael Scarnecchia are the only scholarship quarterbacks on South Carolina’s roster.
“Jay works hard. He’s a hard worker. You can definitely tell he loves football,” Bentley said. “He’s really fast. He’s pretty fast to be a taller guy. He definitely loves football. He loves being there.
“He continues to work in the playbook. It’s a lot when you first get here, when it comes to learning everything. He’s getting there. Every time I meet, he wants to be there with me, which is great to see.”
Urich, of course, is in the mix to win one of the reserve jobs behind Bentley, who started the final seven games last season. The depth chart at tight end is a little more crowded ahead of Will Register.
“Will’s going to be really good, too,” Bentley said. “He’s got a pretty dang good tight end in front of him, so I’m not sure he’ll help us this year, but definitely will be a guy that we look to, to really help us.”
Hurst shared some more insight.
“He’s a big, physical kid. He’s strong. I’ve seen him in the weight room a little bit. He’s just going to continue to polish his game,” Hurst said. “Getting with coach [Pat] Washington, who’s one of the best tight end coaches in the country, it’s just going to help take Will’s game to the next level.
“Like I said, he’s a big, strong kid, but he’s 18 years old. He’s going to learn. He’s going to get the offense, and he’s going to learn football and how things are done at South Carolina. The sky’s the limit for him.”