Byrd, Ellington, Roland could take top honor
South Carolina may have lost Ace Sanders to the NFL Draft, but USC’s wide receiving corps appears to be in capable hands this season.
Gamecock receivers Damiere Byrd, Bruce Ellington and Shaq Roland were each named to the preseason Biletnikoff Award Watch List on Tuesday. The award is given annually to college football’s most outstanding receiver and was named after former college and pro football hall of famer Fred Biletnikoff, who played for Florida State and the Oakland Raiders.
Byrd, a junior from New Jersey, averaged over 26 yards per catch last season. He also recorded three receiving touchdowns on the year.
Ellington, the team’s leading receiver from 2012, is also on the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, which goes to the country’s most versatile player. The dual-sport athlete hauled in 40 catches and seven touchdowns last year, including the game-sealing touchdown reception against Clemson.
Roland, a former “Mr. Football” at Lexington High School, caught five passes for 80 yards in his freshman season for the Gamecocks.
Former Biletnikoff winners include Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson. South Carolina has never had a player win the award, although former Gamecock and current Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey was named a finalist for the honor during his sophomore year in 2010.
Ten semifinalists will be announced on November 18th, with the announcement of the winner coming on December 12th.