GENE SAPAKOFF: Speed thrills for Gamecocks
COLUMBIA -- Jason Barnes kind of likes the theory. There might not be enough footballs to go around. He smiled.
"I sure hope so," South Carolina's senior wide receiver said. "But you are right, we have a lot of play- makers on offense. That's a good thing, definitely."
The taller, steadier targets we knew about. Nothing wrong with Barnes and All-American Alshon Jeffery, both 6-4.
You already know Marcus Lattimore, a between-the-tackles basher as effective as any college running back when it comes to gaining yards in 6-yard gulps.
What sticks out on offense after 16 Gamecock practices is newer, faster, jaw-dropping speed that might make the difference between a real good team and a great one.
Scenes from camp:
--Damiere (duh-MEER) Byrd, a blur of a 5-9 freshman wide receiver, zipping down the left sideline to get comfortably open.
"World-class speed," starting quarterback Stephen Garcia said.
--Shon Carson, a 5-8 true freshman running back, darting about and begging for return duty.
--Sophomore hybrid Bruce Ellington, the wideout/wildcat quarterback/point guard from Moncks Corner running all over the place.
"It's fun throwing to all these guys," Garcia said. "We have a lot of playmakers on this team. It's something we haven't had since I've been here but we have a long way to go."
The name of the game in college football is keeping up, literally.
The Gamecocks are hard-pressed in the gantlet that is the SEC.
Maintaining pace with Clemson is no easy task, either, even as South Carolina goes for a rare garnet three-game braggin' rights win streak in November.
The Tigers are ready to roll out the kind of wheels they didn't have last season with Jacoby Ford and C.J. Spiller gone to the NFL. This year and for the next two or three, foes will have trouble chasing redshirt freshman wide receiver Joe Craig, true freshman wideout Sammy
Watkins and true freshman running back Mike Bellamy.
It should be fun.
Ellington can do it all, except play baseball.
But Carson plays baseball, and was good enough at Lake City High School that the Cincinnati Reds selected him in the 44th round of the draft. Carson might play baseball for South Carolina next spring.
Carson rushed for 33 touchdowns as a Lake City senior and scored Wednesday night on a 16-yard touchdown run during the overtime period of the Gamecocks' public scrimmage.
"He's quick. He's very quick," Garcia said. "We're going to be pretty good. He'll definitely play a lot this year, I think. He has some good hands. He just has to keep focusing on the playbook."
Byrd, fresh from Sicklerville, N.J., was the offensive MVP at the NUC All-World Bowl high school all-star event in Charleston last winter. He reduced his 100 meters time to 10.42 seconds in high school and has competed in track events as far away as Japan.
Spurrier has jokingly asked the media to keep Byrd's quick feet an August secret.
The Head Ball Coach knows there are few on-field September surprises in this college football era of social media and public scrimmages. What he really wants is for East Carolina and Georgia and eventually Clemson to have to worry about Damiere Byrd and Shon Carson and Bruce Ellington.
Thus making Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery that much more dangerous.
Reach Gene Sapakoff at email@example.com or 937-5593.