June 20, 2007

Sophomores Rising - Offense

Analysis and commentary by Keith Allsep.

Steve Spurrier's second recruiting class in Columbia has proven to be vastly underrated, as evidenced by the number of first year players that made a major impact last season. In today's column, we will take a look at three key members of that class and the impact they could make on the Gamecock offense in 2007.

In 2006, South Carolina signed one of the premiere offensive line classes in country. Two of those players made a much quicker impact than originally planned, as assistant coach John Hunt was forced to throw both Garrett Anderson and Hutch Eckerson into the starting lineup in just the third game of their freshmen seasons. Anderson, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound Dutch Fork High School product, became the starting right guard, and Eckerson, a 6-foot-6, 280-pound Lumberton, N.C., standout was thrust into the starting role at the all-important left tackle position.

Both players were asked to learn on the job, which forced to mature quicker. Each started the next five games before being replaced in the second half of the Vanderbilt contest. For the remainder of the 2006 season, neither player saw significant action. However, they are expected to play major roles on the 2007 offensive line, as Anderson exited spring practice listed as the starter at left guard, which is his natural position. Eckerson was listed as the primary backup at right tackle and could challenge projected starter Justin Sorensen with a strong performance in fall camp.

Anderson and Eckerson arrived on campus last summer with impressive credentials, both being ranked as four-star prospects by rivals.com and each holding impressive offer sheets. Anderson chose South Carolina over Clemson, Virginia Tech and West Virginia, and was the first offensive lineman to commit to the Gamecocks under head coach Steve Spurrier, as the Gamecocks did not land an offensive lineman in Spurrier's first class. Eckerson chose the Garnet and Black over Virginia and Virginia Tech.

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