The top 10 players returning to the South Carolina Gamecocks for the 2020 college football season.
Important to note that this list is based upon last year's data and film from on each specific team as well as judgment based upon the player's position both his skill and the level of talent around him at the said position and influential cohorts. Positional value also plays a large factor in these rankings as does the offensive or defensive scheme.
1A Jaycee Horn, CB
1B. Isreal Mukuamu, CB
3. Shi Smith, WR
4. Aaron Sterling, DE
5. Jammie Robinson, DB
6. Ryan Hilinski, QB
7. Ernest Jones, LB
8. R.J. Roderick, S
9. Kingsley Enagbare, DE
10. Jovaughn Gwyn, G
Honorable Mention: Sadarius Hutcherson, G
It's hard to distinguish between the top two here, so I won't do it. They each bring with them an incredible set of skills in coverage that should once again dominate. The best thing about both Horn and Mukuamu, however, is their work ethic and drive. There is no returning duo at cornerback that works as hard as they do at perfecting their craft.
On the field, the results show, as well. They each allowed just over 50% of the passes thrown their way to be caught last season and Mukuama's three-pick game against Georgia spurred the upset victory single-handedly. They combined for 15 pass breakups between just the two of them and their physical nature of coverage should continue to dominate at the catch point, off route breaks and in either man or zone coverage.
Robinson was also ultra-impressive in his debut season, lighting up receivers in his coverage and sticking to them like glue. He didn't allow a long reception to go for over 40 yards and had three PBUs and a pick to boot.
Elsewhere on defense, Sterling and Enagbare are going to have to work even harder for their pressures this season after losing both interior pass-rushing threats in Javon Kinlaw and D.J. Wonnum to the NFL. Sterling tied with Kinlaw for the team-lead in sacks a season ago and combined, he and Enagbare racked up well over 50 total pressures.
On offense, Hilinski returns after posting an 11-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio and finding great success to the short area of the field. With some increased touch on throws past the first-down marker, he should also see increased success. Fortunately, he's got Smith returning after he hauled in 43 catches for 489 yards and two scores, doing a ton of his damage after the catch.