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Three South Carolina Football Freshmen Poised in 2023 Season to Make Immediate Impact

 South Carolina football brought the nation’s No. 16 recruiting class in 2023, the program’s highest-ranked class since 2012.

The Gamecocks’ freshman class includes Nyckoles Harbor, the first 5-star signee of coach Shane Beamer’s three-year tenure, plus 10 4-stars and four of the top seven in-state prospects. South Carolina had great success utilizing freshmen in 2022: Safety Nick Emmanwori led the team in tackles and earned freshman All-American honors, and fellow defensive back DQ Smith started 11 games.

The most talented group in more than a decade is on campus for summer workouts, and these three freshmen are the most likely to be impact players in Year 1 — plus a few honorable mentions with situational star potential:

Grayson Howard, linebacker

Howard, a 4-star linebacker from Jacksonville, Florida, enrolled even earlier than most of the 2023 class, joining the Gamecocks in December during practices for the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. He immediately made an impression, and 2022 starting linebacker Brad Johnson joked that Howard’s nickname, “Pup,” doesn’t make sense, because there’s nothing puppy-like about the 6-foot-4, 242-pound freshman.

South Carolina graduated both of its experienced starters from last season in Sherrod Greene and Johnson. Mohamed Kaba, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury in Week 2, is expected to make his return to the starting lineup, but he did not participate in spring practice and might be somewhat limited entering the season. Howard is college-ready and should start appearing regularly in the rotation right away.

Desmond Umeozulu, EDGE

Asking a true freshman to take on SEC offensive lines is no small feat, but South Carolina, with its lack of depth at edge rusher, is going to need Umeozulu to do so. The 4-star was a top-150 prospect nationally, the No. 22 edge rusher and the No. 3 player in Maryland for the Class of 2023.

South Carolina has just five edges on this year’s roster, with both Jordan Strachan and Terrell Dawkins recovering from season-ending knee injuries. Strachan, a seventh-year player, has struggled to stay healthy in his career, and Dawkins played just three games in 2022 after transferring from NC State. At 6-6 and 240 pounds, Umeozulu will be a capable contributor after a few months of adding mass in the strength program.

Markee Anderson, offensive line

Anderson, South Carolina’s highest-rated signee behind Harbor, might not have been on this list six months ago. But presumed starting tackle Jaylen Nichols is expected to miss at least the first several weeks after suffering a knee injury during the Garnet and Black spring game.

The 6-4, 320-pounder could become a key contributor in Nichols’ absence. The 4-star offensive tackle from Roebuck was the No. 3 prospect in South Carolina, the No. 6 lineman and the No. 154 recruit nationally in the 2023 class. He already possesses elite size and length, and during the recruiting process, analysts lauded his aggression and athleticism.

Honorable mentions

Nyckoles Harbor, wide receiver: Harbor’s recruiting pedigree means the Gamecocks will want him involved early. The 6-5, 230-pound athlete has elite track speed and is expected to play WR despite entering the recruiting process as an edge rusher/tight end. The problem for Harbor is that the receivers room is loaded with senior talent, so the team simply might not need him much in Year 1.

LaNorris Sellers, quarterback: Barring an injury, Spencer Rattler is the guaranteed starter at QB, but Sellers’ athleticism could add some dimension to the offense under Dowell Loggains. The Gamecocks have regularly used Dakereon Joyner as a trick-play quarterback, and the 6-3, 232-pound Sellers would excel in taking over that role with Joyner’s move to running back.

Source : Greenville News