South Carolina football: Ranking the Top 25 players of the decade
Some of the best players in program history played for the Gamecocks in this decade, especially at wide receiver, quarterback and on the defensive line.
South Carolina benefitted — and delivered in recruiting — from elite in-state talent that decided to stay home and set up a string of 11-win seasons, including winning the SEC East.
Here is a list of the Gamecocks’ Top 25 players of the decade:
25. P Joseph Charlton
Entering 2019, Charlton held the school record for career punting average at 44.1 yards per punt, set the single-season punting average mark in 2018 with a 44.8-yard average. In 2019, he averaged 47.71 yards per punt.
24. K Elliott Fry
Fry is the Gamecocks’ all-time leading scorer with 359 points. His game-winning 55-yard kick to beat Vanderbilt in 2016 matched the 2nd-longest in FBS that season.
23. LB T.J. Brunson
At or near the top of the team lead in tackles for 3 seasons, he was named a permanent team captain in 2018.
22. OL Zack Bailey
Bailey played in 46 games over 4 seasons, and made 38 starts (27 at left guard, 8 at right tackle and 3 at center. He made the All-Freshman SEC team in 2015 and was a 2nd-team All-SEC in 2018.
21. DL Darius English
In 2016, he led the team and tied for 4th in the SEC with 9 sacks, tying for 9th on the school’s career list with 15.
20. LB/DE Sharrod Golightly
Golightly played in 46 games in his career and registered 47 and 57 tackles in his final 2 seasons, 2013 and 2014.
19. DL Kelcy Quarles
In 2013, Quarles was a unanimous 1st-team All-SEC selection and named 1 of 4 permanent captains after led the team and tied for 3rd in the SEC with 9.5 sacks.
18. QB Dylan Thompson
In 2014, set a school record and led the SEC with 3,564 passing yards. He also led in the league in passing yards per game (274.2).
17. LB Bryson Allen-Williams
From 2014-18, he played in 43 games and made 176 tackles (107), 6.5 sacks, 4 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries.
16. OL A.J. Cann
A 4-year starter at left guard, he made 51 starts, the 2nd-most in school history.
15. LB Skai Moore
He was a do-it-all defensive star who compiled 353 tackles (213 solo), 20.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. He led South Carolina in tackles in 4 seasons and also left with a share of the career interception record (14).
14. DL D.J. Wonnum
Wonnum had 13.5 sacks in 4 seasons, and was 1 of just 3 sophomores who was named a permanent team captain in school history.
13. WR Pharoh Cooper
In 2015, earned 1st-team All-SEC honors by the league’s coaches as a wide receiver and as an all-purpose back.
12. LB Melvin Ingram
A consensus All-American in 2011, when he recorded 11.0 sacks, he was the Gamecocks’ 1st defensive player to be named a consensus All-American. He was the No. 18 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
11. DB D.J. Swearinger
A 2nd-team All-SEC selection his senior season, Swearinger made 33 starts with 244 tackles and 6 interceptions. He was a 2nd-round pick in 2013.
10. TE Hayden Hurst
The first sophomore in school history to be named a permanent team captain, Hurst played in 38 games (27 starts), and made 100 receptions for 1,281 yards and 3 TDs. He was 1 of 4 Gamecocks taken in the 1st round of an NFL Draft this decade (No. 25 overall in 2018).
9. RB Mike Davis
Davis is the most recent Gamecock to rush for 1,000 yards as he ran for 1,183 yards and 11 TDs in 2013.
8. DB Stephon Gilmore
Gilmore started all 40 games he played in at South Carolina and made 181 tackles, recovered 4 fumbles and made 8 interceptions (1 returned for TD). He and Jadeveon Clowney are the Gamecocks’ only top 10 overall picks this decade. Gilmore went No. 10 overall in 2012.
7. WR Deebo Samuel
As a senior in 2018, earned 1st-team All-SEC with 62 catches for 882 yards and 11 TDs. He was a 2nd-round pick in 2019.
6. DL Javon Kinlaw
As a senior in 2019, he was named 1st-team Associated Press All-American. He had 35 tackles and 6.0 sacks, with 4 quarterback hurries 2 fumble recoveries and 1 blocked kick.
5. WR Bryan Edwards
Edwards’ career was cut short with a late knee injury that kept him out of the Clemson game this season, which prevented him from being the school’s all-time touchdown record. He finished at the top of the program record books for yards (3,045) and receptions (234). Edwards started every healthy game since arriving on campus.
4. WR Alshon Jeffery
Jeffery is 1st in receiving yards in the program and 2nd in SEC history. Jeffery played in 39 career games from 2009-11, and finished with 183 receptions for 3,042 yards and 23 TDs, which is tied for 1st in school history. He was a 2nd-round pick in 2012.
3. RB Marcus Lattimore
Lattimore is 6th on the school’s all-time rushing list with 2,677 yards and owns the school record for rushing touchdowns (38) and touchdowns scored (41). His best season was a freshman in 2010, when he rushed for 1,197 yards while being a unanimous selection as a Freshman All-American. Injuries marred his career, but he still was a 4th-round pick in 2013.
2. QB Connor Shaw
The winningest quarterback in school history, Shaw was 27-5 as a starter, including 17-0 at home. In 2013, Shaw completed 63.4 percent of his passes for 2,447 yards with 24 touchdowns and 1 interception. He’s also the school’s career leader in completion percentage (65.5 percent), 2nd in career passing touchdowns (56) and 4th in career passing yards (6,074).
1. DL Jadeveon Clowney
A 2-time All-American, Clowney holds the school record with 9 forced fumbles, and is 2nd with 47 tackles for a loss. Clowney was the 3rd Gamecock to earn 1st-team All-American honors in 2 seasons. He is the 2nd player in program history selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft.