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College Football Preview: 9. South Carolina Gamecocks

9. South Carolina Gamecocks Returning Starters: 14 Returning Star: Marcus Lattimore Key Loss: CB Stephen Gillmore Player to Watch: RB Marcus Lattimore South Carolina was almost there last season. Now with the return of improving quarterback Connor Shaw and Marcus Lattimore hopes are high for the 2012 season. Shaw had a strong sophomore year and may have a breakout junior year. I think he has a good accurate arm and is very mobile. When Marcus Lattimore is healthy he is one of the top backs in the nation. But if he isn't 100 percent the Gamecocks go from a top 10 team to a top 25 team. Lattimore is super athletic and fast that can run over defenders also. Though sophomore Brandon Wilds did play strong replacing Lattimore when he was injured last year. Senior fullback Dalton Wilson will help lead the way for Lattimore and is underappreciated. The loss of Alshon Jeffrey severely hurts the improving passing game. Jeffrey had a lethal mix of speed and size. Now it appears South Carolina's top receiver will be junior Ace Sanders. Sanders is maturing and will be a speedy target for Shaw. Sophomores Bruce Ellington, Nick Jones and Rory Anderson must step up in order for this offense to be one of the SEC's elite. The offensive line is one of the SEC's worst. It is very inexperienced and talent is definitely an issue. The defense is menacing and the line is especially strong. Ends Devin Taylor and Jadeveon Clowney form a lethal pass rush. Taylor is more experienced but Clowney is more talented and is tougher to stop. Without Melvin Ingram the tackle position is a little bit weaker. The linebackers are strong thanks to senior Shaq Wilson. Wilson is intimidating and hits hard. Reginald Bowens is also a senior and like Wilson makes plays. The secondary would have been a strength. But, then Steve Spurrier lost cornerback Stephen Gillmore and Antonio Allen. Now its a pretty weak unit. Sophomore Victor Hampton might be able to make plays and DeVonte Holloman return. The special teams lost both their kicker and punter but Ace Sanders is a strong returner. Heisman Hopeful: Marcus Lattimore SEC Rank: 5th

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