South Carolina will hold its annual Media Thursday, with dozens of players meeting with the media after head coach Will Muschamp kicks off training camp with his first press conference at 3 p.m.
That means several prominent players will be in the spotlight, including many of the team’s 21 seniors.
This is the deepest and most experienced team Muschamp has had in his four years and it’s led by a strong group of seniors. He has been pleased with the way the senior have led the team throughout the offseason and set the tone for 2019.
“A lot of these guys came to us off a three-win season and not a very good circumstance at the University of South Carolina,” he said. “There are multiple guys that are four-year starters, three-year starters, two-year starters, a bunch of guys who have played really good football for us.
“I’m really excited about this group. I really challenged our entire team in the offseason program to leave no doubt about the things that take no talent — the effort, the toughness, the discipline and the ability to compete and have a competitive edge, a team-first mentality. And this group has done a good job of holding our football team accountable. I’ve been very pleased to this point.”
Who are the team’s veteran leaders? Here’s a look at the ones Muschamp has singled out in recent weeks.
Jake Bentley — Four-year starter in line to break numerous school passing records. Named a permanent team captain as a sophomore after starting as true freshman.
Bryan Edwards — Another four-year starter who is poised to break many school receiving records. He leads a deep and talented receiving corp.
T.J. Brunson — Senior linebacker has started every game the last two years, collecting 206 career tackles. Also a permanent captain, he is the leader of the Gamecock defense.
Donell Stanley — They call him “Grandad” for a reason. A sixth-year senior and three-year starter who anchors the offensive line. The offensive player of the spring after moving back to guard.
Sadarious Hutcherson — He’s a junior but took over a starting role as a redshirt freshman and hasn’t looked back. One of the strongest players on the team, he has moved to the crucial left-tackle position.
The RBs — Rico Dowdle, A.J. Turner and Mon Denson are all seniors and have each gotten significant playing time in their three seasons. Though senior transfer Tavien Feaster will push them for playing time, all three should play key roles this season, with Turner possibly playing offense and defense.
Kiel Pollard and Kyle Markway — Pollard, a senior tight end, has appeared in 38 games the last three years and is expected to play a big role in the offense this year. He’s also a valuable special teams player. Markway is a junior but Mushcamp calls him one of the most dependable guys on the team. He makes big catches too.
The D-Line — Muschamp is excited about the five seniors on the defensive line. D.J. Wonnum is a three-starter starter and a permanent team captain. Javon Kinlaw is a two-year starter who is considered one of the best defensive tackles in the country. Keir Thomas has started 25 games, while Aaron Sterling and Kobe Smith have provided valuable depth the past two years. They lead a deep and talented front four.
“I’m really going to put a lot of pressure on our five seniors up front,” Muschamp said. “We need those five guys to play well, and they should. They are good football players.”