South Carolina Football: Spring Practice No. 1

Dakereon Joyner 

Dakereon Joyner has looked to one prominent NFL receiver for a blueprint as he makes the transition from quarterback and receiver to full-time receiver this spring, and it’s a name South Carolina football fans are familiar with.

“Deebo,” Joyner said without hesitation on Tuesday. “ … Deebo Samuel, a very electric guy. A guy that, after he catches the ball, [yards after the catch] and stuff like that … I always watched Deebo.”

With incumbent starting quarterback Ryan Hilinski returning for South Carolina along with the additions of Collin Hill and Luke Doty, Joyner — who took some repetitions at receiver for the Gamecocks last season — hopes to catch on with the group that includes Shi Smith, Josh Vann and Xavier Legette.

SPRING PREVIEW: South Carolina defense

“It’s fun. It’s definitely exciting,” Joyner said on Tuesday. “I’m just finding way to contribute so we can win. I think that’s the biggest thing. … I think I’m explosive. Well, I know I’m explosive. With the ball in my hands, I’m electric. I think everybody knows that. I’ve just got to get the basics down. The route running and stuff like that.

“And once I get that down, I think it’s going to be over with.”

Joyner, who dealt with a hamstring injury throughout last season and missed three games, caught six passes for 46 yards and ran 29 times for 107 yards and a touchdown. The celebrated high school quarterback also completed 16-of-28 passes for 168 yards.

Now, Joyner said, lining up as both a slot receiver and on the outside — as well as in the backfield on trick plays or designed runs — will give him “more opportunities” to make plays.

As a former quarterback, Joyner said he’ll be able to recognize coverages and adjust his routes accordingly.

The redshirt sophomore — who won the team’s Unselfish Teammate Award for Offense award last season — was slotted to play just receiver last season until starting quarterback Jake Bentley went down with a season-ending injury in the season opener.

“I had to contribute in every way possible, you know, that’s the way it was,” he said. “That’s the role I had to play last year.”

But the North Charleston product Joyner, and Gamecock head coach Will Muschamp, has talked about how much he enjoys being a team player and how much he enjoys playing for his in-state university.

When asked on Tuesday about if he thought about transferring this offseason, it sounded like that never crossed his mind.

“This is home,” Joyner said. “Since my ninth grade year of high school I kind of wanted to [take over] the state of South Carolina. … I did in high school. This is my home. I want to continue to stay here and continue to take it over.”

Now, he’s excited about playing for first-year offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.

“Very exciting. A man that demands respect in terms of his offense. A guy that wants us to be better. He wants to be the best offense in the SEC and I know we will be,” Joyner said. “ … That’s the one thing about this offense, you never know what’s coming.”

He’s also excited about learning from position coach Bryan McClendon, someone Joyner said is demanding and always pushing the receiver to be better.

“That makes you so competitive and makes you want to do better,” he said. “You’re not going to hear him say good job. You’re going to hear him say, ‘You should have done this better.’”