It is difficult to find a more promising running back duo than South Carolina has in Kevin Harris and MarShawn Lloyd.

While Harris was lightly recruited as a 3-star prospect coming out of Hinesville, Ga., and the No. 68 player in his home state in the 2019 class, Lloyd was recruited by some of the top programs in the country as a top 50 recruit overall in the 2020 class.

Lloyd is primed and ready to go after a knee injury wiped out his 2020 season. And Harris has worked his way back from summer back surgery. This time last year, not many would have predicted Harris would beat the odds and rush for 1,138 yards last season to lead the SEC. It was difficult to believe that the previous year, he was fourth on the depth chart behind Tavien Feaster, Rico Dowdle and Mon Denson.

When Harris first came on the scene two springs ago, former coach Will Muschamp explained why he stood out.

“He runs behind his pads,” Muschamp said of Harris. “There’s nothing soft to hit. He runs through contact well. … We’ll continue to find the best guy that’s going to go out and give us an opportunity, got to create some runs as far as making a guy miss and running through contact.”

The key for both of these running backs is how will they adjust if defenses load the box and make Zeb Noland or Luke Doty beat them with his arm? Assuming Harris is healthy, look for him to reach the 1,000-yard mark again thanks to 2 more games and to get some versatile support from Lloyd and ZaQuandre White, who could spell both players at times and who shined in the spring.

Between Harris’ health and the emergence of other backs, he may wait a game or 2 to really get on track. Coach Shane Beamer somewhat deflected a question about that at his Tuesday press conference.

“Kevin should be good,” he said. “I expected all the running backs to play. Now who takes the first snap? I don’t know.

“Whatever (Marcus Satterfield) decides the first play is going to be on Saturday night – it may be we have a specific package for Juju (McDowell) and he’s on the field for that. Maybe it’s MarShawn, maybe it’s Kevin, maybe it’s ZaQuandre, I don’t know. Maybe there aren’t any running backs out there, maybe it’s three running backs out there. We’ll see what the first play holds.”

Lloyd returns after an impressive offseason rehab from the left knee ACL injury he suffered last Aug. 20. There are  plenty of expectations for the former top-50 recruit as South Carolina beat out several blue-blood programs to land him out of talent-rich DeMatha High in Maryland.

The 5-foot-9, 211-pounder was expected last season to be a key figure in the running game after the Gamecocks lost their top 3 rushers from the previous season, including Clemson transfer Tavien Feaster, who rushed for 672 yards and 5 touchdowns.

The Gamecocks’ offensive coaches maintain that they could use 2 backs on the field at once, and given the stable of backs, there are options.

“Do I think you can do that for the entire game? No shot. Especially in this league,” offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said, per the Post and Courier. “But can you utilize those guys in certain facets of the game to create an advantage in the run game and the play-action pass game? I 100 percent know you can do that.”

With all the struggles the Gamecocks went through last year with multiple quarterbacks and an all-SEC schedule, it’s very possible that they begin a new streak of 1,000-yard rushers in Columbia. Satterfield’s creativity will be exposed, and the health of Harris and Lloyd will be tested. After all, this is the most talent the Gamecocks have had at that position since Marcus Lattimore and Mike Davis or Brandon Wilds in the 2011-12 timeframe.

There’s plenty to be excited about for the garnet-and-black faithful.