Eight members of the University of South Carolina football team have been named to Athlon Sports’ 2022 All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) squad – although only one of them was a first-team selection.
Left for dead by pundits heading into 2021 – and looking lifeless midway through the season – Beamer’s squad pulled off late-season upsets of Florida and Auburn to become bowl-eligible for the first time in three seasons.
Heading into 2022, cornerback Cam Smith is listed as the Gamecocks’ lone preseason first-teamer. The 6-foot-0, 185-pound redshirt junior from Blythewood, S.C. had three interceptions a year ago en route to earning second-team All-SEC honors.
The Gamecocks’ top two returning wide receivers – senior Josh Vann and junior Jaheim Bell – both earned preseason second-team All-SEC honors. Bell had his coming out party in last season’s win over North Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Lake City, Florida native hauled in five catches for 159 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Gamecocks 35-28 victory over the Tar Heels.
As for Vann, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Tucker, Georgia native led the Gamecocks with 679 receiving yards last season – including a career high 128 yards against eventual national champion Georgia.
Other preseason All-SEC selections for South Carolina included senior defensive lineman Zacch Pickens (6-foot-4, 305 pounds) and sophomore kick returner JuJu McDowell (5-foot-9, 177 pounds) – both of whom were third team choices. Senior all-purpose back Dakereon Joyner, senior offensive lineman Jovaughn Gwyn and sophomore punter Kai Kroeger were picked for Athlon’s fourth team.
In addition to its preseason all-SEC performers, Beamer’s squad is expected to benefit from the additions of former Oklahoma University quarterback Spencer Rattler and tight end Austin Stogner – both of whom announced their decision to transfer to South Carolina in December.
Rattler was a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate heading into last season after throwing for 3,031 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2020. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound native of Phoenix, Arizona also ran for 160 yards and six scores last season. Rattler’s Heisman dreams didn’t pan out in 2021, but if he can come close to his previous form the Gamecock offense – which was hindered by inconsistent quarterback play a year ago – should be substantially more productive.
As I noted in a recent post, Beamer has thus far succeeded only in silencing his critics. He has yet to consistently prove them wrong.
Beamer’s efforts to avoid the fate of his predecessor recommence in earnest on September 3, 2022, when the Gamecocks host Georgia State University – a team led by former South Carolina interim head coach Shawn Elliott. Kickoff from Williams-Brice Stadium has been set for 7:30 p.m. EDT with the game being streamed live on ESPN+ and SECN+.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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