Evaluating QB Lorenzo Nunez's freshman expectations with Gamecocks
Lorenzo Nunez, one of the key out-of-state signees in South Carolina’s 2015 class, was scheduled to be groomed as the long-term option at quarterback for the Gamecocks, a player who could throw on the run much like Connor Shaw and provide athleticism at the position.
Then, four-star 2016 commit Brandon McIlwain took home MVP honors two weeks ago at the Elite 11 Semifinals, pushing Nunez’s momentum down a notch heading his first fall practice later this season.
What are Nunez’s expectations as a true freshman?
Come in and compete.
He’ll have the luxury of practicing without pressure in August, likely battling for the second-team spot with Perry Orth unless he’s further along in the playbook and from a skills standpoint than most of us expect as a true freshman. Reps are crucial for Nunez, who will adjust to the speed of the game and being around new teammates.
In April, I wrote that South Carolina’s 2015 offense belongs to Mitch and I still firmly believe that unless the third-year sophomore does something to jeopardize Steve Spurrier’s direction. He has shown an increased attention to detail since the HBC lit a fire under him publicly in January and has developed into a leader on offense.
Above all, Mitch has patiently waited his turn to perform, sitting out a year behind Shaw and studying the Gamecocks’ scheme and concepts behind Dylan Thompson.
With that being said, part of the reason Spurrier didn’t name a starting quarterback coming out of spring was due to his wait-and-see approach with Nunez, who provides another dimension as a dual-threat option. The latter has proven to work wonders for this offense in the past (See Shaw, career-long on third down and Stephen Garcia meets Will Hill, 2010 at Florida).
What I like most about Nunez is the four-star’s willingness to fight against the ‘running quarterback’ label so often handed to players whose passing numbers aren’t eye-popping coming out of high school. The kid can throw and showcased his accuracy on the camp circuit, most importantly, in front of Gamecocks assistant G.A. Mangus who wouldn’t have pursued if he wasn’t confident in Nunez as a passer.
The Kennesaw, Ga., native told The State earlier this spring that he uses his mobility to extend plays and not necessarily abandon the original call in passing situations.
He’s comfortable on the move.
“I can make a play out of nothing, if it comes to that,” Nunez said.
That’s exactly what this offense was missing last season despite Thompson’s single-season record 3,574 yards passing through the air, a player who could escape an approaching linebacker on 3rd-and-5 before jetting to the sideline.
The summer enrollee arrived on campus a lanky 6-foot-3, 208 pounds according to reports and anticipates being in position to threaten Mitch for the season-opening start in Charlotte against North Carolina. More than that, it’s important for Nunez to further immerse himself in the offense and find his niche quickly before McIlwain arrives in 2016.
That’s when the real three-player battle under center begins for the future of the program.