South Carolina’s list of established wide receivers features only one player: Pharoh Cooper.
Cooper was one of the SEC’s top wideouts last season, but the Gamecocks must have an alternative arise in order to prevent opposing secondaries from focusing solely on stopping the electric Cooper. Enter redshirt freshman Deebo Samuel, who flashed some big-play skills during spring practice and is our choice as a South Carolina sleeper to watch this fall.
Sleeper: Deebo Samuel, WR, RFr.
Why: Samuel fits the sleeper label to a T. He was not a high-profile recruit and spent last season watching from the sidelines as a redshirt. Yet, he showed during the spring why South Carolina will have more than one dangerous playmaker in the passing game. That will be an important development since the Gamecocks lost five of their top six pass-catchers behind Cooper from 2014. They already relied heavily on Cooper (69 catches for 1,136 yards and 9 TDs in 2014), who accounted for 25 percent of their receptions and 31 percent of their receiving yards last year. But their offense will take a step backward if wideouts like Samuel, senior Shamier Jeffery or redshirt freshman Terry Googer fail to take some of the pressure off their junior star now that veterans like Nick Jones and Shaq Roland are out of the picture. Samuel seems to have the tools to be that guy. Listed at 6-foot and 206 pounds, he already has an SEC-ready build. And during the Gamecocks’ Garnet and Black spring game -- where he hauled in three passes for 94 yards and set up Googer’s game-winning touchdown with two catches on the final drive -- Samuel also flashed some slippery moves that could help him develop into an exciting weapon to complement Cooper this fall.