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Big Portal Additions For The Gamecocks

portal additions Gamecocks

The Gamecocks have made some key transfer portal additions early in 2024. In fact, Shane Beamer and his staff have improved the position groups that lost players in the portal while also stacking talent along the line of scrimmage. Position groups like linebacker were also particularly thin last year but over-performed and projected to be much deeper in 2024. Both the offensive and defensive lines needed some additions but for different reasons. In 2023, the injuries along the offensive line have this staff and fanbase keenly aware of the need for quality depth. Along the defensive front, the cupboard was nearly bare behind a few experienced starters. The staff has worked hard to put together quality talent heading into the spring. 

Key Departures Led to More Speed

South Carolina lost two key linebackers to the portal. Stone Blanton, who started all of 2023, returned home to Mississippi State. After an underwhelming freshman campaign, Grayson Howard also went home to play for Billy Napier. Still, Howard was expected to be the leader in the room for years to come, and his usage was almost certain to increase in 2024. Instead of dwelling on the loss, the coaching staff looked quickly to replace the two players and add one key element: speed. Incoming in this class are two-time transfer (Georgia Tech and Charlotte), Demetrius Knight II, and Pitt transfer Bangally Kamara. Both players fit nicely in an already athletic linebacker room and improve the depth of the position beyond where it was before Blanton and Howard’s departure.

Kamara is the more experienced of the two players. At 6’2” and 225 pounds, he played four seasons for Pitt. He had 49 and 55 total tackles in his junior and senior seasons, respectively. He doesn’t show the skillset to come in and overtake the current starters. However, he can hold his own when he gets opportunities to give starters a breather. He projects in the two-deep. Knight had a breakout season last year at Charlotte after a lack of production at Georgia Tech. Players develop at different rates, so the lower level is not necessarily the reason for his success in 2023. He was listed at 6’2” and 247 pounds and posted 96 total tackles and three picks. Despite his weight, Knight still moves with quickness and can play sideline to sideline. He could also be a two-deep player behind Debo Williams and Bam Martin-Scott. If Clayton White sticks with a 3-3-5 base, one of these transfers, sophomore Jaron Willis or veteran Mo Kaba, will also need to slide into a starting role.


The Gamecocks’ offensive line also got a couple of key portal additions this cycle. The MEAC Offensive Lineman of the Year, Torricelli Simpkins, is committed to the Gamecocks. His position coach at NC Central and former Gamecock lineman Cedric Williams believes Simpkins is a “day one starter” at South Carolina, according to former Gamecock John Strickland on Inside The Gamecocks: The Show. Simpkins projects as an interior lineman. Another interior line transfer, Aaryn “AJ” Parks, is coming to Columbia by way of Norman, Oklahoma. Parks was a reserve player for the Sooners and will also be a depth piece for the Gamecocks. With the injuries along the line in 2023, Beamer is taking no risks this year. Parks brings experience and good size to the offensive line room.

On the defensive side of the ball, the front needed a facelift. Very few edge rushers from 2023 will return in 2024. The three leading players inside are coming back for another year with the Gamecocks, but depth on the interior allows defensive coaches to keep the big guys fresh. Georgia Tech transfer Kyle Kennard was the Gamecocks’ top target at edge. He had 54 total tackles with six sacks and an interception for the Yellow Jackets in 2023. He will contribute immediately to the Gamecocks opposite freshman phenom Dylan Stewart. On the interior, another Pitt transfer, DeAndre Jules, and an Alabama transfer, Monkell Goodwine, will both be contributors in 2024. Both players bring size and athleticism. Goodwine lacked the anticipated production in Tuscaloosa and is looking for a fresh start with the Gamecocks. Jules had seven and a half tackles for loss in 2023, which is more than both Alex Huntley and Tonka Hemingway had for Carolina. 

What’s Next

The portal additions for the Gamecocks were significant. Now, the name of the game is development. While developing players has always been important in college football, rapidly developing “one-year rental” players is the new skill that coaching staffs around the country must master. Depth was the major issue for Carolina in 2023. As of now, there will be less of a depth problem in 2024. That’s an overall win from the portal. 


portal additions Gamecocks
Photo courtesy: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports


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