To help get you through college football's slow days of early July - before conference media days launch the preseason festivities - The Post and Courier counts down the 10 most important South Carolina Gamecocks and 10 most important Clemson Tigers for 2014. One Gamecocks player and one Tigers player every day, so you can spend part of your summer studying the players who will make a difference for your team come autumn.
Clemson No. 10
He told reporters he submitted paperwork to check his NFL draft prospects, but he wouldn't share his grade. Maybe because Stephone Anthony was coy, maybe because the grade was unbecoming.
Whatever the case, Anthony was a perfectly effective college football player his junior year - I preferred Spencer Shuey, but really, take your pick - and he'll have a chance to prove he's a money-maker at the next level.
Deciding to come back for his senior year (one of three on Clemson's defense who could have made the leap), Anthony led the Tigers in tackling and durability.
Anthony became just the third linebacker in school history to log 800 snaps (he had 802), and as it were, he's only 800 snaps away from equaling Chad Carson's career record for linebacker longevity at Clemson.
What Anthony brings to the Tigers' linebacking corps more than anything else is a sure thing. With Shuey graduated, the Tigers have questions about what to do with that will linebacker spot, as well as how to handle a third linebacker or fifth defensive back on the field.
Senior Tony Steward (with his noted troublesome knees) and sophomore Ben Boulware should wage an entertaining war to become Shuey's replacement, so it'd help if Anthony handled his business against tough early opponents.
Clemson has an impressive history of linebacker continuity - since the stat started to be kept in 1976, 10 have paced the Tigers in tackling in consecutive years (including Jeff Davis.) Anthony could, and should, become No. 11.
USC No. 10
Chaz Elder shouldn't be bearing the weight of South Carolina's secondary on his shoulders after less than two seasons. And, in a way, he isn't.
The sophomore safety has senior Brison Williams, a potential mentor and leader for the Gamecocks defense. But Williams may move from safety to cornerback this fall, leaving Elder as the - ahem - statesman at safety.
At the safety position, Elder is South Carolina's future. There's a lot of pressure that comes with that. Even more when South Carolina is running short on other options.
Cornerback is the most glaring need in South Carolina's defense. An argument could be made whoever lines up on the outside - and how well they fill that void - will be as important as anything on the Gamecocks defense. But with a shortage of experienced defensive backs, Elder must deliver.
Elder gave his coaches good reason for confidence last season. Though he was inconsistent as a redshirt freshman, he also flashed big-time potential at times. Elder had 25 tackles, four tackles for loss, one interception and a fumble recovery in six starts.
The high point came against Mississippi State. Elder tied a single-game career-high four tackles, adding an interception. They weren't big numbers, but Elder didn't have to play a big role in an experienced secondary.
Elder's role will likely grow this fall. If he's able to grow with it, his maturation will go a long way toward helping solidify South Carolina's shaky secondary.
South Carolina safety Chaz Elder attempts to run down Florida running back Jabari Gorman during a game last season at Williams-Brice Stadium. Elder will play an important role in the Gamecocks secondary this fall. (AP Photo/ Richard Shiro)×
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