The Daily Gamecock

Transfers, draft prospects headline outgoing personnel changes on Gamecock football roster

<p>FILE—Redshirt sophomore running back MarShawn Lloyd stands on the sidelines during a game against the S.C. State Bulldogs on Sept. 29, 2022. The Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs 50-10.</p>
FILE—Redshirt sophomore running back MarShawn Lloyd stands on the sidelines during a game against the S.C. State Bulldogs on Sept. 29, 2022. The Gamecocks defeated the Bulldogs 50-10.

The makeup of the South Carolina football roster will look much different in 2023 as many Gamecocks have decided to either enter the transfer portal or declare for the NFL Draft.

Junior wide receiver Antwane Wells Jr. will not be among them after he announced his return in a video posted on his Twitter page, while junior quarterback Spencer Rattler's future as a Gamecock remains to be seen. Other impact playmakers and reserve players from last year will look to find an opportunity to play for professional or other collegiate teams next fall, as well as mark the end of their football career.

Transfer Portal

As of Jan. 5, 14 South Carolina Gamecocks have entered the transfer portal. Fifth-year safety RJ Roderick left the program in mid-October and is the only player who did not enter the portal following the conclusion of the regular season.

Among those transferring is sophomore running back MarShawn Lloyd, a dynamic player in the Gamecocks’ passing and running game. Lloyd, who committed to play for Southern California, ran for a team-high of 621 yards and finished tied for fourth in the SEC with 11 total touchdowns.

Along with Lloyd, the Gamecocks lost its top two tight ends — junior Jaheim Bell and graduate student Austin Stogner — to the portal.

Bell bursted onto the scene after finding the end zone twice during a five-catch, 159-yard performance against North Carolina in the 2021 Duke’s Mayo Bowl but saw less playing time this past season. In 2022, He totaled 497 yards and five touchdowns, while playing running back and tight end, leading him to transfer to Florida State.

As for Stogner, he initially transferred to South Carolina after three seasons at Oklahoma and caught 20 passes for 210 yards and one touchdown in his lone season with the Gamecocks. He decided to return to the Sooners for the 2023 campaign.

On the defensive side of the ball, two of last year’s starting edge rushers — junior Jordan Burch and redshirt sophomore Gilber Edmond — entered the transfer portal.

Burch came to South Carolina as the second-highest rated recruit in the team’s history, only behind former defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who went on to be a No. 1 overall draft pick in the NFL. This past season was Burch’s best in garnet and black, as he totaled a career-high 60 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.

To follow, Edmond emerged as a starter after a season-ending injury to fifth-year edge rusher Jordan Strachan early in the season. He made the most of the opportunity — accumulating 39 tackles, nine tackles for loss and two sacks.

The Gamecocks also saw a number of reserve players on offense, defense and special teams decide to transfer, most notably junior wide receiver Corey Rucker re-entered the portal after arriving in Columbia from Arkansas State ahead of the 2022 season. He battled a lingering injury before being ruled out for the rest of the season and caught only one pass — a 52-yard touchdown in the Gamecocks’ 56-20 victory over Charlotte.

While head coach Shane Beamer claimed the nature of the transfer portal as rough, he acknowledged the Gamecocks are in a good position heading into the offseason.

“We’re in a great situation here at Carolina. I look around and there’s other schools that have close to 20 right now of their players in the portal,” Beamer said during a media availability on Dec. 14. “You just realize that’s part of it and wish guys that aren’t here well.”

The first NCAA transfer portal window — during which players can enter the portal without losing a year of eligibility — remains open until Jan. 18. A second window opens later in the spring on May 1 and closes May 15.

NFL Draft

The South Carolina football program has provided a pathway for young players to reach the professional ranks in recent years. A combined total of 14 Gamecocks have been selected in the past four NFL drafts, including two first-rounders, and 30 total players made an appearance in a regular season game in 2022.

Redshirt junior defensive back Cam Smith is expected to be one of the first Gamecocks, and defensive players overall, to be selected in next year’s draft. Smith was named second-team All-SEC by the Associated Press in 2021 after allowing only 15 catches on 32 targets and totaling 41 tackles, three interceptions and 14 passes defended in 2021. He is projected to be a first-round pick, according to ESPN’s Jordan Reid in his latest mock draft.

"After much prayer and consideration and speaking with my family, I will be entering the 2023 NFL Draft," Smith said in a statement on Twitter. "I am eager to pursue my dreams of playing in the NFL, but I will always be a Gamecock."

The Gamecocks lost an additional two defensive starters — senior defensive lineman Zacch Pickens and redshirt senior defensive back Darius Rush — to the draft as well.

Pickens totaled 131 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in his four years with the Gamecocks and was named to Athlon Sports and Phil Steele's preseason All-SEC third team ahead of the 2022 season. Rush registered a career-high 38 tackles, two interceptions, nine passes defended and one forced fumble last year.

Both Pickens and Rush were invited to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl, a postseason all-star game featuring some of the most talented senior draft prospects in the country.

South Carolina also saw three of its most experienced offensive linemen — redshirt senior Jovaughn Gwyn, fifth-year Dylan Wonnum and sixth-year Eric Douglas — decide to enter the draft. The three appeared in a combined 148 games, including 124 starts. 

Another Gamecock draft prospect on the offensive side of the ball is fifth-year wide receiver Jalen Brooks, who finished second on the Gamecocks in receiving yards with 504 and added one touchdown on 33 receptions, averaging 15.3 yards per catch in 2022.

Graduate students defensive back Devonni Reed and running back Christian Beal-Smith both declared for the draft after one year with the Gamecocks. Reed transferred from Central Michigan before this season and recorded 39 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. Beal-Smith, who previously spent five years at Wake Forest, amassed 156 yards and five touchdowns on 39 attempts. 

The 2023 NFL Draft will take place April 27-29 in front of the Union Station in Kansas City.


Ahead of the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, redshirt junior tight end Traevon Kenion decided to call an end to his football career after catching seven passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns in his four seasons with the Gamecocks.

“I’d like to thank God for giving me the opportunity to play the game I love since I was 4 years old … I’ve been talking a lot with my family and doing alot of praying to decide what the best decision would be for my future,” Kenion said in a statement on Instagram. “With that being said I have made the decision that I will be stepping away from Football.”


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