USC’s most important offensive players for 2014: No. 5

Posted on July 9, 2014 

South Carolina wide receiver Shaq Roland (4)

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

Countdown note: GoGamecocks’ Josh Kendall, David Cloninger and Dwayne McLemore each ranked the 10 players most important to South Carolina’s offense in 2014. We took their predictions, compiled a composite list and are revealing it one player a day through July 14. (This is not a ranking of the team’s best players -- it’s our rank of the players who are most vital to the team’s success.)

5. Shaq Roland

Shaq Roland and Damiere Byrd each can stretch the field and give Dylan Thompson a home-run threat, but Roland is so gifted at making impossible catches. Just look back at the Capital One Bowl (six catches for 112, including a spectacular 49-yard leaping grab).

The big glaring difference from this year’s receiving corps is the absence of Bruce Ellington, last season’s leading receiver with 49 catches for 775 yards and eight touchdowns. Roland and Pharoh Cooper will be looked to first to fill that void.

Roland, now a junior, was recruited to be a big-time playmaker for the Gamecocks. He led USC last season with an 18.2-yards-per-catch average and totaled 455 yards on 25 catches and scored five touchdowns.

He will get a chance to build on that in 2014.

“He recognizes his opportunity, and he understands how important it is for him to make the most of his spring and summer and come into next year as a guy who can have a big year,” receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. said. “He knows that, and we are going to stress that upon him before that first game.”

Best-case scenario: Roland connects with Thompson and breaks out in a big way, becoming USC’s first 1,000-yard receiver since Alshon Jeffery (1,517) in 2010. Fifty to 60 catches and 800 to 900 yards and eight to 10 scores would be more than solid.

Stats: Six career starts, all last season. ... 30 career receptions for 535 yards and six touchdowns.


No. 6: A.J. Cann

No. 7: Mike Matulis

No. 8: Elliott Fry

No. 9: Brandon Wilds

No. 10: Damiere Byrd

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