COLUMBIA, S.C. – Now that we know Deebo Samuel won’t play another down for the South Carolina football team in 2017, let’s look at the MVP candidates for the Gamecocks.
The redshirt junior wide receiver made quite the case for himself in less than three games. Samuel still leads the team with 6 touchdowns and almost triples everyone else in all-purpose yards per game (158).
His impact on the Gamecocks, even though it’s such a small sample-size, is unparalleled, because of what he did as a receiver, rusher and returner.
Let’s take a look at the top candidates.
- Jake Bentley: The sophomore quarterback has thrown for 1,986 yards, with 14 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He’s also tied for the team lead with a pair of rushing touchdowns. Though Bentley has struggled at times this season, it’s clear that he’s got the goods to win in the SEC. The future of South Carolina football is bright — and Bentley has a lot to do with that.
- Bryan Edwards: There might be a slight uptick in pressure on Edwards now that Samuel is done for the season, but it’s not like the sophomore wide receiver hasn’t already shown that he’s got the goods to be the Gamecocks’ go-to guy on the outside. Edwards leads the team with 42 catches for 497 yards. He’s tied for third with two others in touchdown catches (2).
- Hayden Hurst: No other South Carolina player has attempted a throw, rushed the ball and caught a pass this season, though he’ll make his money at the next level as a tight end. Hurst, a junior, is second on the team with 30 catches for 421 yards and is tied for second with Edwards and Shi Smith with 2 touchdown catches.
- Chris Lammons: Last season’s Defensive Player of the Year has proven to be, once again, one of the most versatile players on the entire roster. Defensively, most of his work has been at safety, but he’s played a handful of snaps at nickel, too. Lammons is third on the team with 57 tackles and also has 3 pass breakups.
- Skai Moore: It took eight games, but Moore finally took the lead in the team’s tackles race. The senior linebacker is a nose ahead of sophomore linebacker T.J. Brunson, 67-66. Moore is also tied for second in tackles for loss (7). His production and presence have allowed the Gamecocks defense to take the next step in Year 2 under Will Muschamp.
- D.J. Wonnum: There may not be a more improved player on the team. Wonnum, a sophomore, is fourth on the team with 44 tackles, first with 10 tackles for loss and first in sacks (5). He’s provided a run-stopping presence at the ‘Buck’ position that was lacking a season ago.
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