South Carolina is now into their first game week of the season. They are trying to rebound after two poor seasons. Shane Beamer has taken over the program and is preparing for his first game as a head coach. This team has plenty of question marks heading into the season, and Saturday will offer everyone a chance to see how this team is going to look. The biggest thing to look for will be who the Gamecocks breakout players will be in 2021.
South Carolina Gamecocks Breakout Players for 2021
There are some established names like Kevin Harris, Kingsley Enagbare, and Nick Muse. However, there is plenty of room for some new names to surface and show what they can do. The offense in particular is in need of having some guys step into bigger more productive roles. Hosting Eastern Illinois on Saturday will provide an opportunity for players to show that this team is ready to start playing at a higher level. The defense should be solid, but there are still some new names that could emerge on that side of the ball.
Jalen Brooks – Wide Receiver
The biggest position of need for the Gamecocks breakout players to come from is in the wide receiver group. The passing game must improve, and a big season from Brooks could go a long way in making that happen. He gives Luke Doty a big downfield target, but he must be more consistent. If he can do that, he could have a huge year as South Carolina’s top target on the outside. Brooks has been praised by this coaching staff for his efforts in fall camp. Translating that to on-field production is the next step. He had just 11 catches for 100 yards in 2020.
Zacch Pickens – Defensive Tackle
The defensive line at South Carolina should be one of the team’s strengths in 2021. It is the deepest group of proven players, with veterans like Enagbare and Aaron Sterling leading the way. Pickens is primed to have a big year in the middle of the line. The former five-star recruit has been solid and improved steadily over two seasons in Columbia. It can be hard to quantify the production of a defensive tackle purely based on stats because so much of their job doesn’t end with them making the play. Pickens has the size and talent to become a force on the interior of the line. As a junior, he should take another step forward and become one of the better interior linemen in the SEC.
Jaheim Bell – Tight End
Another selection for the Gamecocks breakout players is the sophomore tight end from Lake City, Fl. His versatility will ensure that he sees the field plenty, even at one of the more stocked positions on this roster. Bell has a combination of size and athleticism that you just can’t teach. In the Spring game, he lined up everywhere on offense. He took snaps at tight end, in the slot, tailback, H-back, and fullback. Bell is very good with the ball in his hands, and he could turn into a match-up nightmare for opponents. He has the size to overpower corners and safeties, and the athleticism to give linebackers fits. Beamer has promised the tight end will be a featured position in his program’s offense. With guys like Bell and Muse at the position, it’s easy to see why.
Marcellas Dial – Cornerback
He arrived in the Spring after two years at junior college. The six-foot corner has improved and impressed during his short time on campus and is slated to start the opener. The Gamecocks secondary lost a lot of its top performers from last season so it needs new guys to step up. Dial has done just that over Fall camp. He has received praise from Beamer and defensive coordinator Clayton White. His physicality and instincts have stood out during his first fall camp in Columbia. White also likes the fact that he doesn’t let one bad play affect him on the following snap. Corners need to have a short memory, and so far Dial has shown he has the mentality to focus on what’s next and not what has already happened.