With the loss of three senior running backs, plus the unfortunate loss of highly touted freshman MarShawn Lloyd, a junior college transfer could be a focal point for the Gamecocks’ 2020 rushing attack in more ways than one.
It’s almost unheard of for a program to lose three running backs after one season. That’s the situation that faced South Carolina Head Coach Will Muschamp and his offensive staff at the conclusion of the 2019 season.
The combination of seniors Tavien Feaster, Rico Dowdle, and Mon Denson not only provided a combined 1,402 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns, but also an additional 254 yards receiving. Not to mention, experienced running backs know how to pass protect.
Losing that amount of production, plus experience, will be missed. That’s why bringing in MarShawn Lloyd appeared to be critical. With Lloyd’s injury, things changed.
Enter junior college transfer ZaQuandre White. The 6-1, 200-pound talent from Cape Coral (Fla.) played last year at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs (Iowa). He will now join a very thin and inexperienced South Carolina running back room.
White not only needs to be able to run and catch the football for the Gamecocks, but he also needs to be able to help some younger players as they find their way in the SEC East. There is talent, albeit inexperienced talent, returning to Columbia.
Although South Carolina fans probably do not know much about White, the fact that the next leading running back from the 2019 season, now sophomore Kevin Harris, rushed for 179 yards, places things into perspective. There is room for optimism however.
Harris averaged a whopping 8.5 yards per carry last season, and scored four touchdowns. White produced 876 yards and eight touchdowns while playing for Iowa Western last fall. Another sophomore will compete with White, along with a freshman.
Sophomore Deshaun Fenwick produced 111 yards rushing for a 5.1 yards per carry average, and bruising freshman Rashad Amos, at 6-2, 215-pounds, brings a physicality that Coach Muschamp is known to prefer. White brings experience and raw talent to the Gamecocks’ roster. He’s also big enough to break tackles in the rugged SEC East.
Here’s a look at a few of his clips of White from his high school days at North Fort Myers High School down in Florida, just to give Gamecocks fans a taste of what he was like three years ago.
White’s aggressive, powerful and downhill running style fits what South Carolina wants to do: impose its will on opposing defenses. He’s a power runner; yet White also provides the speed to reach the perimeter. He will make plays towards the edge of the defense.
With South Carolina’s youth movement at running back, White’s maturity and experience also mean he’s capable of aiding the younger running backs with questions they will most certainly have about playing big-time college football.
How far up should the running back be to pass protect? Where’s the pressure going to come from on third down? How quickly should the running back come off the backside of the pulling guard during a trap play?
Those are just some of the basic questions that young running backs sometimes ask. An extra voice like White can mean a lot to a young running back group attempting to find its way.
There’s no taking the sting out of losing Lloyd. He was a great prospect that will be missed until he returns for the 2021 season. With that said, White can be expected to help shoulder the load of carries for the Gamecocks during the 2020 season, plus he’s going to be counted on to help the other young running backs gain their footing and adapt to playing a 10 game SEC schedule.