Josh Vann Steps Up As South Carolina’s Top Target At Receiver

South Carolinas top target

One of the Gamecocks biggest questions heading into the season was who would step up at wide receiver. The offense is still figuring some things out, but they seem to have found their main man out wide. Josh Vann has emerged as South Carolina’s top target in the passing game. The senior is having a career year, and its only three weeks into the season.

Josh Vann Steps Up As South Carolina’s Top Target

The Gamecocks have used both Zeb Noland and Luke Doty at quarterback this season. Each of them took little time in figuring out that targeting Vann is a good option. So often in college sports these days kids aren’t afforded time to learn, grow and improve their craft. Not all players are able to step on the field and be at their best immediately. There is still plenty of value in a kid that works hard and develops his skills before fulfilling the potential that got them on campus. Vann is a great example of that.

Early Struggles

The Tucker, GA native was rated as high as the 152nd best player in the class of 2018 at one point. After committing to the Gamecocks, he took what has become a customary drop in the rankings and signed as the 191st best player in his class. A four-star slot receiver, he has played since day one on campus. While his opportunities have been there, his production was lacking over the last few seasons. Vann played in 26 games in his first three years. He had just 47 catches, 377 yards, and two touchdowns over that time.

Vann struggled with drops and consistency as much to the passing game has recently. The other issue was he seemed to be limited in his impact. Over his first three years in Columbia, he was never used as a downfield threat. Catching short passes for minimal gain was his role. It would be difficult to find more than a couple plays over ten yards. That has all changed in 2021.

New Year New Man

Vann has become South Carolina’s top target because he is showing he can make plays all over the field. He is averaging 27 yards per catch over the first three games. The short and medium routes are still a part of his game, but he is quickly becoming a dangerous downfield threat. Vann was recognized on Monday Night Football’s segment called ‘Mossed” this week for his leaping grab over a Georgia defender last Saturday. Not only is he showing the ability to get open down the field, but he is showing he can make plays on the ball in the air against tight coverage.

Credit must be given to offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield and receiver’s coach Justin Stepp for the improvement shown by Vann. However, most of the credit needs to go the player himself. He knew he had the abilities to be a bigger factor in this offense, and he has put in the work to become just that. The senior had a game high of 33 yards receiving coming into the season. He is coming off back-to-back 100 plus yard games and has already set a career high in touchdowns. Vann has been a bright spot in an otherwise sluggish start for the Gamecock offense.

Spread It Around

The search for South Carolina’s top target may be over, but this team is still looking for other guys to break out. Jalen Brooks and Dakereon Joyner are the other two starters at receiver. They have both shown some flashes this season but need to start having more of a consistent impact. Brooks is starting to develop opposite of Vann out wide. He had a one-handed highlight reel catch late in the game in Athens. Joyner has taken over in the slot and is catching the short routes that Vann was known for before this season. The two are tied for the team lead in receptions. Joyner is an explosive athlete who seems to be improving at the receiver position. He has the skills to be dangerous with the ball in his hands but has yet to get loose for a big play in 2021.

The tight ends have also not been as involved in the passing game as much as predicted before the season. That should change moving forward. The tandem of Nick Muse and Jaheim Bell both have the ability to give defenses trouble. Muse is a solid and reliable option. He and Doty formed a nice chemistry at the end of last year, so hopefully they can rekindle that now that the sophomore quarterback starting again. Bell is far too talented an athlete to not get the ball more. He can line up at tight end, receiver, or even in the back field. He just needs more touches so he can use his combination of size and skill to attack opponents. If those players around Vann can step up in a similar fashion to what he has done through three games, this offense has a chance to improve greatly.

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