COLUMBIA – South Carolina is returning a lot offensively, with just one glaring piece from last year’s improved offense missing.
Yes, the Gamecocks are going to be without Swiss-Army-knife offensive threat Deebo Samuel, but have a few young receivers they’re excited about in Josh Vann and Chad Terrell.
“He’s got all the tools and all the ability as far as route running,” Bryan Edwards said of Vann. “The next step from him is understanding - understanding what defenses are trying to do and understanding where he is in the progression and when he has to be open, not just late but with timing on routes.”
Vann, a former four-star prospect out of Georgia, quickly worked his way into the two-deep and saw action in every game as a freshman, with one start.
With a few veteran pieces in front of him in the receiver rotation, Vann hauled in 18 catches for 118 yards and a touchdown, that coming in a win over Ole Miss late in the season. He also had one rush for five yards.
The next step for his game, as it is with most freshmen, is continuing to learn the system and figuring out how to attack different defensive schemes an opponent will throw at him.
He’s been competing for a starting spot, with Samuel moving on to professional football in the NFL Draft this week, and Vann has done a good job this spring as he enters his sophomore season.
“I definitely see him making a big jump,” Edwards said. “I think he’ll be a big part of the offense, as will the rest of our receivers.”
Terrell’s case is a little different than Vann’s, though.
The redshirt sophomore had his second year on campus derailed by a torn ACL last spring, which had him miss the first half of the year.
He only played in four games, to maintain his redshirt, not picking up any statistics in the action he saw.
Terrell is fully healthy and is also getting some action with the first team, as position coach and offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon has rotated in a few guys over those three starting spots, and Terrell’s been impressing some.
“The biggest thing with injuries is getting over it mentally,” McClendon said. “It’s about doing a good job saying, ‘Hey man, it’s different going out there running and cutting when nobody’s around you,’ but now you have people falling around your leg, your foot or whatever might have happened.
"It’s about going out there, throwing caution to the wind ready to work. That’s where I’ve been really proud. He’s been able to go out there and work like nothing’s happened. It’s fixed. He doesn’t need a brace or anything. Let’s go out there and work.”
Terrell had a somewhat productive freshman season dealing with a few injuries then as well, playing in 10 games and amassing 20 yards on three receptions.
It’s been tough for a guy like Terrell, who came to South Carolina as a four-star receiver also out of Georgia. But his teammates always saw someone ready to go to work.
“I never really saw any frustration from him because he’s such a humble kid and down-to-earth kid,” Edwards said. “He’s always up, always talking to you. I never saw any frustration.
"He took his time with the process, did his rehab and worked his way back in.”