South Carolina Gamecocks’ Top 10 Returning Players in 2024 Include Rocket Sanders, Nick Emmanwori

    After a roller coaster of a transfer portal season, the South Carolina Gamecocks' top 10 returning players include several high-level transfers.

    South Carolina fans endured a roller coaster of a transfer portal season, watching the Gamecocks lose star receiver Antwane “Juice” Wells on the first day before Shane Beamer pieced together one of the top overall transfer classes in the country. The 2024 schedule is brutal, but if these top 10 returning players play to their potential, the Gamecocks will make a bowl in 2024.

    South Carolina Gamecocks’ Top 10 Returners in 2024

    Analyzing the returning players at every school is a difficult task in the transfer portal area. As such, we’ve included transfer-portal athletes on each team’s roster page to open spring camp in addition to the rostered players from last year.

    10) Jalon Kilgore, S/NB

    The bottom two to three on this list are incredibly difficult to compile, as this will be the deepest team Shane Beamer has ever had at South Carolina. Jalon Kilgore gets the nod because he’s important to the defense. He’ll start at either nickel or safety, depending on how the rest of the secondary shakes out.

    Kilgore had a fantastic freshman year and got better as the season went on. South Carolina expects him to be even better as a sophomore in 2024.

    9) Nyck Harbor, WR

    Nyck Harbor will make Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List again this year. The 6’5″, 245-pounder is the size of most edge rushers and will miss most of spring practice because he’s winning SEC track meets at sprinter distances.

    Harbor is second behind Josh Simon in terms of catches and yards among players returning to South Carolina and should be a featured part of the offense as the only wideout over six feet with any experience. If he learns the intricacies of the position, he could be one of the best in the SEC.

    8) Tonka Hemingway, IDL

    Tonka Hemingway plays a variety of positions on the defensive line (and even in jumbo packages on offense), and he’s vitally important to the success of South Carolina’s defense. When he’s playing his best, the defensive line excels against the run and the pass.

    His athleticism and ability to rush the passer can put teams behind the chains. Offensively, he’s vital to the Gamecocks’ success in short-yardage situations.

    7) LaNorris Sellers, QB

    If LaNorris Sellers lives up to the hype, the future will be very bright in Columbia. The young quarterback saw limited action last season, completing all four of his passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns.

    At 6’3″, 240 pounds, Sellers is a true dual-threat at the quarterback position. The hype isn’t just from fans, as more than one high-profile transfer quarterback went elsewhere when the coaching staff told them Sellers was the likely frontrunner at the quarterback position.

    6) Jared Brown, WR

    Jared Brown was highly productive at Coastal Carolina, especially in the explosive play category. As both a rusher and receiver, he averaged over 12 yards a touch, including the country’s best rushing average for players with at least 15 rushing attempts.

    MORE: South Carolina 2025 Football Schedule 

    Brown is likely to start in the slot, and I expect him to be one of South Carolina’s top options in the passing game in 2024.

    5) Debo Williams, LB

    South Carolina’s coaching staff quietly believes this group of linebackers will be among the best in school history, and Debo Williams is the cream of the crop. He finished with 113 tackles last season, taking home several All-SEC Honors.

    This year, he’ll have a bit more freedom to call the defense and will be in a more traditional middle linebacker role in the 3-3-5 alignment the Gamecocks will run. Expect Williams to have an even better year with more talent around him.

    4) O’Donnell Fortune, CB

    O’Donnell Fortune was the forgotten man last year, mainly because opposing quarterbacks rarely tested him. He was solid in coverage, and the early returns are that he’s reshaped his body and technique in the offseason.

    There’s a huge question mark at one corner spot, but Fortune has the No. 1 CB position locked down. His actual production will likely be determined by the strength of the rest of the secondary.

    3) Nick Emmanwori, S

    Nick Emmanwori burst onto the scene as a freshman but, by several metrics, took a step back last season. Most of that was due to him playing out of position, and when he returned full-time to his box safety role down the stretch, he once again thrived.

    Emmanwori is one of the most athletic defenders in the SEC, with 4.3 speed and linebacker size. If he can continue to improve in coverage, South Carolina’s secondary will be excellent in 2024.

    2) Kyle Kennard, EDGE

    Kyle Kennard’s commitment and subsequent enrollment at South Carolina went under the radar, but he will be a huge asset for a retooled defense this fall. The sack numbers from Georgia Tech aren’t huge, but the underlying pass-rushing numbers are fantastic. He should have some more talent around him this year.

    If Kennard plays well, the entire defensive line should be better both against the pass and the run. His biggest contribution will be to revitalize a struggling pass rush.

    1) Rocket Sanders, RB

    Raheim “Rocket” Sanders spent last year hurt at Arkansas and struggled to put up the numbers we’re accustomed to seeing. He led the SEC in rushing in 2022, putting up over 1,700 yards from scrimmage with the Razorbacks.

    KEEP READING: 2024 SEC Power Rankings 

    Now healthy, Sanders will factor in heavily to the offense. The offensive line is still a question mark, but it’s healthier and more talented than a year ago and should open some lanes for the senior back.

    Miss any action from the top college QB Rankings during the 2023 football season? Want to track all the movement with the college football transfer portal? College Football Network has you covered with that and more!

    College Football Transfer Portal Tracker

    Never miss a beat with the CFN-exclusive College Football Transfer Portal Tracker, listing the student-athletes entering and exiting the transfer portal.

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