South Carolina great returns to Palmetto State; plus, Gamecocks’ new QB coach ‘can’t wait’ to start
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Guess who’s back?
Former South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw is heading back to the Palmetto State.
Shaw will be under second-year Furman coach Clay Hendrix, who earned SoCon Coach of the Year honors in his first year in Greenville, S.C., after directing the Paladins to an 8-5 record and the FCS playoffs.
Shaw completed 65.5 percent of his passes for 6,074 yards in his four seasons at South Carolina. The Flowery Branch, Ga., native led the Gamecocks to three consecutive 11-win seasons.
Ready to roll
New South Carolina quarterbacks coach Dan Werner served as an offensive analyst for Alabama this past season but didn’t celebrate the Crimson Tide’s national championship too long.
Werner tweeted on Tuesday how excited he was to join the Gamecocks in Columbia this week.
Can’t wait to get started tomorrow in Columbia!! Proud to be a member of the gamecock family. #Spursup
— Dan Werner (@CoachDanWerner) January 9, 2018
Before coming to Alabama, Werner was co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ole Miss for five years.
With a core of young, talented players returning next season, South Carolina has a number of All-SEC candidates for 2018 — including rising junior “Buck” D.J. Wonnum.
“D.J. Wonnum had a breakout sophomore campaign, leading South Carolina in sacks (6) and tackles for loss (13),” SEC Country’s Hale McGranahan wrote. “Before the Outback Bowl, his teammates voted him as a permanent team captain, along with three other players.”
Wonnum’s 13 tackles for loss for were tied for eighth in the SEC in 2017.
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Despite finishing the 2017 season unranked, the Gamecocks got some love in Sports Illustrated’s way-too-early Top 25 for 2018, coming in at No. 21.
“In a thinner SEC East, the Gamecocks have a good chance to win double-digit games behind third-year starter Jake Bentley at quarterback,” Sports Illustrated’s Joan Niesen wrote.
South Carolina opens the 2018 season at home against Coastal Carolina on Sept. 1.
Believe it or not, the early signing period for the 2019 recruiting cycle is less than 12 months away. McGranahan broke down the Gamecocks’ defensive needs in 2019, including the linebacker position.
“Ahdarrious Gee, a 3-star prospect from Cordele, Ga., could profile at the weakside linebacker position,” McGranahan wrote. “In addition to Gee, look for the Gamecocks to add at least one more linebacker to the 2019 class.”
South Carolina’s 2019 class (three commits) is currently ranked No. 17 in 247Sports’ recruiting composite team rankings.
Bringing the thunder
Three-star running back and South Carolina signee Deshaun Fenwick is excited to be a part of the Gamecocks’ future thunder-and-lightning tandem with fellow 2018 running back Lavonte Valentine.
“You give it to Lavonte — they’re going to be pounding me and they’re going to give it to Lavonte, the change-of-pace guy, he’s going to take it to the house, so that’s a deadly conversation,” Fenwick said. “Along with Dakereon [Joyner], who we haven’t even talked about, it’s going to be pretty dirty.”
The Bradenton, Fla., native is one of 13 freshmen enrolling early.
Fenwick is rated as the No. 13 all-purpose running back for 2018, according to the 247Sports composite.
Big men on campus
Speaking of early enrollees, the newest group of Gamecocks arrived on campus on Tuesday. The South Carolina football team’s official Twitter account caught up with the players as they moved in.
A special group of young men made Columbia their home today!
— Gamecock Football (@GamecockFB) January 10, 2018
247Sports ranks South Carolina’s 2018 signing class No. 18 in the country. The Gamecocks have a chance to climb even higher with several top targets still on the board.
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