EXCLUSIVE Spencer Rattler 2023 SEC Media Days South Carolina QB
EXCLUSIVE Spencer Rattler 2023 SEC Media Days South Carolina QB

South Carolina football, Shane Beamer trade Soulja Boy for milder approach at SEC Media Days

NASHVILLE — South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer’s tone was restrained at 2023 SEC Media Days, a distinct contrast to the Pit Vipers and Soulja Boy soundtrack that defined his experience last year.

That’s not to say Beamer’s swagger was gone entirely. He made a compelling argument that serving as a special teams coordinator prepared him for head coaching better than being an offensive or defensive coordinator would have. He joked that his kids suggested a shorter opening statement this year — during one that went just nine words less than in 2022.

However, his overall message Thursday wasn’t one of building hype but tempering it. Coming off of its winningest season since 2017, South Carolina enters 2023 with 38 new players, a new offensive coordinator and significant holes in the roster at key spots: running back, edge rusher and left tackle.

The Gamecocks are ready to be realistic — and that’s a good thing.

Shane Beamer is explicit about concerns

Beamer didn’t shy from praise of his program but consistently balanced it with critique. While gushing about new defensive line coach Travian Robertson, Beamer noted that the unit needs to make strides in its run defense and pass rush. He called the Gamecocks’ upsets of No. 5 Tennessee and No. 8 Clemson last season “monumental,” but reminded reporters that the same offense failed to score a single point against Florida.

“We’ve shown that we can compete against the best in the country, but every year is different, and we’ve got to be better than where we were last year, for sure,” he said. “There’s great confidence within our team, but there’s also an understanding that nobody’s taking a breath and patting ourselves on the back.”

Beamer has a history of getting defensive when his team struggles, so the specificity of his self-awareness was encouraging. It’s clear that the optimism from those last two games of the regular season and about new offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains isn’t clouding the program’s perception of itself. Preparing for early growing pains now will make it easier to swallow if the team struggles in its 2023 opener against North Carolina and quarterback Drake Maye.

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Nyckoles Harbor, LaNorris Sellers and freshman expectations

South Carolina’s 2023 recruiting class ranked No. 16 in the country, the program’s highest-ranked class since 2012. The group is headlined by two-sport athlete Nyckoles Harbor, a five-star wide receiver with track speed. Harbor is the only five-star on the Gamecocks’ roster besides quarterback Spencer Rattler, but Beamer was careful to downplay his expectations in Year 1.

“My concern is just the expectations the outside puts on that he’s the savior coming in here and he’s going to come in and just take over college football,” Beamer said. “The guy’s a true freshman that was in high school a few months ago . . . He’s an 18-year-old young man that’s really talented but . . . he’s part of a really good receiver room, so he’s going to have to earn it.

He offered similar sentiments about 6-foot-3, 232-pound freshman quarterback LaNorris Sellers, a four-star. Beamer didn’t close the door on giving Sellers a role in 2023, but he wouldn’t commit to what that role could look like.

Spencer Rattler stays on message

Like his coach, Rattler kept low-key in his first SEC Media Days appearance, outside his diamond-encrusted gold chain in the shape of a rattlesnake. The Gamecocks’ second-year starter said he expects to be a more reliable version of himself.

“Consistency is the No. 1 thing we need to have to be successful,” he said. “(Turnovers) are a main point this year. I want to limit that, have more touchdowns and obviously keep the interception numbers low. I think with this offense, they’ll definitely be lower.”

In a week when Mississippi State’s Will Rogers predicted he would break the SEC’s all-time passing record and Tennessee’s Joe Milton asserted he has the strongest arm in college football, Rattler’s measured responses stood out.

“I would like to put myself at the top (of the SEC). That’s just the self-confidence you’ve got to have as a quarterback, but it’s always much respect to all the other quarterbacks,” Rattler said. “There’s so many great quarterbacks in this league . . . With a year under my belt, I know what to expect going on the field, seeing all the defenses and knowing what this league is about.”

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: South Carolina football, Shane Beamer tone it down at SEC Media Days

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