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South Carolina’s offense continues to take shape.

First-year offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield has spent the spring and the bulk of the summer instituting his new system in Columbia. With it, the Gamecocks figure to be a force in the run game given the three-headed attack of senior Zaquandre White, junior Kevin Harris and second-year freshman MarShawn Lloyd.

But for as good as the South Carolina rushing attack might be, questions remain as to what quarterback Luke Doty and his targets might be capable of in the passing game.

“They’ve heard the talk out there, I’m sure,” head coach Shane Beamer said in April of his receivers. “… I sit there and look at them and I see a group that’s working their butts off and making a bunch of competitive catches and continuing to try and make plays.”

In April’s annual Garnet and Black spring game, the Gamecock passing attack struggled. During the portion of the session where stats were kept, South Carolina’s quarterbacks combined to complete a 9 of 18 passes for just 94 yards — good for an average of 5.2 yards per attempt.

And while half of a spring game is hardly enough to indict an entire offense under new leadership, question marks at receiver remain

South Carolina returns four of its top-five pass catchers from a season ago. The problem? Only one of those four players — tight end Nick Muse — recorded more than 159 yards receiving in 2020 and Xavier Legette is the only one of those four options listed as a receiver.

Of South Carolina’s returning receivers, only Legette notched more than 110 yards on the season. Senior Jalen Brooks, who arrived at USC last fall from Tarleton State but didn’t gain eligibility until the fifth game, caught 11 passes for 100 yards and will be expected to improve on those numbers this season.

Both Josh Vann and Dakereon Joyner are back in the fold in 2021, though both have had up-and-down careers in Columbia. Joyner, who came to USC as a four-star quarterback, transitioned to wide receiver full-time in 2020 to mixed results. He earned rave reviews through spring camp but has yet to put it all together during a season.

Vann is the most experienced returning receiver of the bunch with 32 appearances and eight starts to his name. Experience aside, Vann has never caught more than seven passes or recorded over 55 yards in a season.

“I know a lot of people say it, but it’s really next man up,” receivers coach Justin Stepp said in April. “I mean, there’s enough guys here in this position room that can step up.”

Saint Francis transfer E.J. Jenkins is the most intriguing option as a pass catcher in Beamer’s first season running the show in Columbia. Jenkins stands a hulking 6-foot-7 and weighs in at 242 pounds, giving him size few, if any, teams in the country can match up with.

During South Carolina’s spring game, Jenkins corralled a handful of touchdown receptions during red zone drills and looked the part of a dynamic playmaker inside the opponent’s 20-yard-line.

Beamer most recently coached tight ends at Oklahoma before landing at USC. Assuming he and Satterfield can find a way to put Jenkins and Muse — who stands an equally impressive 6-foot-4 and weighs 249 pounds — on the field at the same time, Doty should have a couple menacing options.

“The way the offense is looking, playmakers are going to get the ball,” Jenkins said in the spring. “Even when there is nothing there, we can make a gain out of it. Us being versatile is going to be really big this season.”

Onetime walk-on Trey Adkins, who earned a scholarship last week, should factor into South Carolina’s pass-catching equation this fall out of the slot alongside former Georgia Tech receiver Ahmareon Brown.

Senior OrTre Smith also offers similar upside to Jenkins and Muse given his 6-foot-4 frame, but he’s recorded just 12 receptions since his freshman season.

Doty shouldn’t be asked to do much in his first year as the full-time starter. Given the loaded running back trio South Carolina boasts and limited options in the passing game, the Gamecocks ought to resort to a more run-heavy scheme while mixing in smidges of play-action and some true dropbacks.

Stepp’s track record — most notably Courtland Sutton of the Denver Broncos — should also instill some confidence USC’s receiver room can find an upward trajectory heading into fall camp.

“… I tell my guys every day, you’d be foolish to think that none of us have anything to prove in here,” Stepp said in April. “I’m coaching with something to prove, and I want my guys to play with something to prove, and that’s an attitude we bring every day.”