Hale McGranahan/SEC Country
South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel earned SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors twice last season.

7 South Carolina players earn All-SEC honors; Gamecocks installed as big favorites in season opener

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Conference honors

Seven South Carolina Gamecocks were recognized on Athlon Sports’ All-SEC teams on Tuesday.

“Deebo Samuel garnered first-team honors as both a wide receiver and kick returner,” SEC Country’s Hale McGranahan wrote. “Samuel, a 6-foot, 210-pound senior from Inman S.C., was limited to just three games last season because of injury. However, in those three contests, Samuel scored 6 touchdowns, including a pair of 99-yard kickoff returns. He caught 15 passes for 250 yards. For his career, he has 86 receptions for 1,194 yards.”

Offensive lineman Zack Bailey, linebacker T.J. Brunson and punter Joseph Charlton earned second-team honors. Defensive linemen Javon Kinlaw and D.J. Wonnum were listed on the third team, with cornerback Rashad Fenton making the fourth-team.

Opening favorites

According to vegasinsider.com and betonline.ag, South Carolina is favored by 30.5 points in its Week 1 game against Coastal Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium on Sept. 1.

In 2013, the Gamecocks beat the Chanticleers 70-10 in the only previous meeting between the two programs.

South Carolina is undefeated in season openers under coach Will Muschamp, beating Vanderbilt 13-10 in Nashville in 2016, then besting North Carolina State 35-28 in Charlotte last season.

3 phases

According to Muschamp, the recruiting process has three key phases.

“It’s the evaluation. It’s the recruitment. And it’s the development when they get on campus,” the third-year South Carolina coach told reporters on Tuesday. “That’s really how you look at it and how you break it down.”

The Gamecocks coaching staff has the first two phases down for 2019; the team’s 2019 class is currently ranked No. 15 in the 247Sports football recruiting composite team rankings with 10 commits thus far.

Looking for more

The South Carolina coaching staff may have originally planned to take just one wide receiver in the 2019 signing class, but that’s no longer the case, according to 3-star WR and 2019 prospect TJ Jones.

“At first, [offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon said] they were going to take only one guy this year, and something came up and he’s already watching my film and stuff,” Jones said. “He said I’m the next guy he wants to coach and he’s going to recruit me hard.”

In addition to South Carolina, the Lake City, Fla., native lists offers from Boston College, Duke, Penn State, Texas A&M and more.

Too early to tell

Before a Gamecock Club meeting in Florence, S.C., on Tuesday, Muschamp shared his thoughts on the potential for legal sports gambling and its impact on college football.

“I think it’s a little bit too early to make any judgments now, to be honest with you, from the standpoint of not knowing how each state will regulate how things will go, so I think it’s a little bit early and premature to comment on it,” Muschamp said. “I haven’t researched it very much, to be honest with you. I haven’t put a lot of time into it.”

The Supreme Court ruled to overturn the federal ban on sports betting on May 14.

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Got your back

Four-star quarterback and South Carolina commit Ryan Hilinski defended Muschamp on Twitter earlier this week, per Austin Nivison of The Big Spur.

“Not YET … and it’s not all about championships. He’s developed young men that can go into the world and make an impact on those around them! That’s way more valuable to me,” the Orange, Calif., native replied to a rival fan’s jabs at South Carolina.

Hilinski’s been committed to South Carolina since April 4. He’s rated as the No. 169 overall prospect for 2019, per the 247Sports composite.

Off-the-field impact

Because of an injury-forced retirement, former South Carolina WR Terry Googer may not be on the field anymore, but that doesn’t mean he’s done contributing to the Gamecocks program.

“He definitely is,” McClendon said Tuesday, via Ben Breiner of The State. “He comes and helps out at practice because he’s kind of a student aide over there at practice. And then he helps out in the recruiting office also. He’s still around.”

Before sustaining a head injury against Texas A&M on Sept. 30, Googer caught 12 passes for 140 yards in his career in Columbia.

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