The Strange Tales of Gamecock Recruiting

By Rixon Lane

With the news today of Shaq Roland's departure from the Gamecock football program, it's time to take a look back at South Carolina's recruiting history.

All programs have players who don't pan out, but it's even more interesting to see where those players were ranked.

Here's a look at some former Gamecock signees and the prospects they were considered superior to:


Shaq Roland: Ranked higher than...Trevor Knight

One was a Sugar Bowl MVP. The other decided he'd rather not spend Christmas in Shreveport. 


Phillip Dukes: Ranked higher than...Teddy Bridgewater and Tre Mason

Dukes has made one start in three seasons at South Carolina. Meanwhile, Bridgewater was a first-round pick in the NFL and Mason was a finalist for the Heisman. 


.J. Cann: Ranked higher than...Tyrann Mathieu

Cann will be remembered as one of the better offensive linemen to ever come through Columbia. However, when he was on the field, the Honey Badger was the biggest game-changer in college football. 


Jarvis Giles: Ranked higher than...A.J. McCarron and Denard Robinson

Giles wound up attending four different colleges, while Robinson was the first player in NCAA history to throw and run for over 1,500 yards in a single season. In Tuscaloosa, McCarron was the first quarterback in the BCS era to win back-to-back national championships. Plus, Katherine Webb. 


C.C. Whitlock: Ranked higher than...Mark Ingram

Whitlock had five interceptions during his time with the Gamecocks, although he fumbled two of those back to the offense. Ingram became the first Heisman Trophy recipient in the history of Alabama's storied football program and set the Crimson Tide's school record for rushing yards in a single season. Following his career with the Tide, he went on to become a first round pick for the New Orleans Saints 


Chris Smelley: Ranked higher than...Greg McElroy, Sam Bradford, Andy Dalton, and Colin Kaepernick

Smelley went 9-6 as a starter for the Gamecocks, then transferred to Alabama to play baseball. Meanwhile, McElroy won a national championship with the Crimson Tide in 2009, Bradford became the second sophomore to ever win the Heisman and was the first overall pick in the NFL draft, Dalton is one of just three NFL quarterbacks to throw for over 3,000 yards in each of his first three seasons, and Kaepernick took the 49ers to a Super Bowl.