The Daily Gamecock

South Carolina football looking for its next starting quarterback, emphasizing competition ahead of 2024 season

<p>Then true freshman quarterback LaNorris Sellers prepares to pass the ball at Williams-Brice Stadium during the Gamecocks' matchup against Furman on Sept. 9, 2023. LaNorris is one of four contenders to take over as the starting quarterback for the 2024 season.</p>
Then true freshman quarterback LaNorris Sellers prepares to pass the ball at Williams-Brice Stadium during the Gamecocks' matchup against Furman on Sept. 9, 2023. LaNorris is one of four contenders to take over as the starting quarterback for the 2024 season.

The South Carolina football team is searching for its next starting quarterback, relying on internal competition to determine who will lead the team's offense during the 2024 season. 

After losing former quarterback Spencer Rattler to the NFL Draft and several backups to the NCAA transfer portal, South Carolina was left with only two scholarship quarterbacks heading into spring practice — redshirt freshman LaNorris Sellers and incoming freshman Dante Reno. Beamer said he and his staff knew they needed more competition between players to find the one who would give them the best opportunity to win games.

“We talk about competition in this building at all times, and it’s on the walls in this building,” Beamer said. “I've never told a player, ‘I'm guaranteeing you a starting job’ and never will. And because the minute I do, then I'm a complete freaking fraud as a head coach.” 

Sellers became the likely contender to earn South Carolina's starting quarterback role because of his prior experience, showing flashes of potential while serving as a backup under Rattler last year. Sellers made three appearances against Furman, Vanderbilt and Kentucky as a true freshman. 

In his debut against Furman, Sellers completed all four of his pass attempts for 86 yards and two touchdowns. His first touchdown, a 50-yard pass to freshman wide receiver Tyshawn Russell, impressed fans at Williams-Brice Stadium by showcasing his athleticism and arm strength. 

He also displayed his versatility and speed later in the season against Vanderbilt, recording his first rushing touchdown from 36 yards out. 

“He’s a tough kid, I mean, running the ball — he’s a load to bring down, so he's a weapon running the ball,” Beamer said. “That throw that he had (to Russell) was pretty dang impressive.” 

Reno joins the spring group as the lone quarterback in the 2024 signing class. Reno led his former high school, Cheshire Academy in Connecticut, to a 7-2 record his senior year, completing 159 passes for 2,358 yards and 20 touchdowns. His high school statistics and accolades garnered him a three-star ranking from On3 as well as Under Armor All-American honors. 

With two relatively inexperienced quarterbacks at his disposal, Beamer said the room needed some competition — something the group holds as one of its core values.

He said many quarterbacks in the transfer portal were interested in joining South Carolina after seeing how much Rattler improved during his time there. But once Beamer told them he couldn’t guarantee them the starting job, they were no longer interested, he said. 

“We have had some quarterbacks — really good — that I could’ve lied to them and then got them here and whatnot, but I’m not going to do that either,” Beamer said. “What we're looking for is somebody that wants to come in and compete to be the starting quarterback.” 


Despite this, South Carolina brought in two veteran quarterbacks out of the portal to add depth and experience to the position. 

Redshirt senior Robby Ashford transferred within the SEC after spending the last two seasons at Auburn. Before joining the Tigers, he played at Oregon for another two seasons.

Ashford is familiar with competition, as he spent most of his time at Auburn as a backup and split time with fellow transfer and senior quarterback Payton Thorne. He embraced the challenge presented to him as well as the opportunity for development, Ashford said. 

“I never want to be a guy who just walks in and gets everything handed to him,” Ashford said. “I want to be a guy that come in here, earns the trust and respect of my teammates and the coaches, and this is a great opportunity to compete.” 

He completed 137 of 277 passes for 1,758 yards and nine touchdowns, adding 927 rushing yards with 12 scores on the ground in his two years with Auburn. The majority of those yards came in a 2022 matchup against Alabama, where he became the first Auburn player to rush for two Iron Bowl touchdowns since 1983. He was selected as Offensive Player of the Year in 2022 before spending his 2023 as a backup behind Thorne. 

The Gamecocks also brought in graduate student Davis Beville for his final year of eligibility. Beville, a native of Greenville, South Carolina, spent three years as a backup at Pittsburgh before enrolling at Oklahoma, where he's played for the past two years. He continued serving as a backup with the Sooners, totaling seven appearances and just one start. 

“I think I just bring experience,” Beville said. “Being from the state of South Carolina and having been around the block a little bit, I've got experience that I've had, kind of the highs and lows I've already experienced in college football. I feel like I can bring that kind of experience to the room and just a natural leadership having been in the position for a while.”

Beamer said he believes that the two transfers have not only increased depth and competition within the quarterback room, but that they will ultimately make the team better overall through their leadership and experience.

At the end of the day, though, the team's starting quarterback will be the one he believes to be the best fit for the program and the offense, Beamer said.

“I’m always going to do what’s best for the South Carolina football program,” Beamer said. “Whether you're black, white, scholarship, walk-on, senior, freshman, whoever gives us the best opportunity to win football games are the guy we are going to put out on the field.”