Gamecocks picked to finish 5th in SEC East in preseason poll

Published: Jul. 23, 2022 at 1:01 PM EDT
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The University of South Carolina is represented by four players on the pre-season All-SEC teams as selected by the media at the 2022 SEC Media Days, held in Atlanta over the past week.

Defensive lineman Zacch Pickens and defensive back Cam Smith earned spots on the second team unit, while tight end Jaheim Bell and wide receiver Josh Vann were third team selections.

Overall, the Gamecocks were picked by the media to finish fifth in the SEC’s Eastern Division. Georgia was the overwhelming favorite to repeat as the East champions, followed by Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida ahead of South Carolina. Missouri and Vanderbilt round out the East. Alabama is the media’s favorite to win the West, ahead of Texas A&M, Arkansas, Ole Miss, LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn.

Alabama is the heavy favorite to be crowned the SEC Champion in December, according to the media that attended the SEC Media Days. The Crimson Tide was named on 158 of the 181 ballots overall.

Pickens, a 6-4, 305-pound senior from Anderson, S.C., has appeared in 35 games over the past three seasons with 20 starts. He logged 38 tackles including four sacks a year ago. A member of the 2019 SEC Coaches’ All-Freshman team and a regular on the SEC Academic Honor Roll,

Smith, a 6-0, 188-pounder redshirt junior from Blythewood, S.C., earned second-team All-SEC honors from the Associated Press a year ago after leading the team with 14 passes defended, including three interceptions and 11 pass breakups. He allowed multiple catches in just two of 11 games played and only 15 catches on 32 targets throughout the season. He has been listed on multiple pre-season All-SEC and All-America teams this summer.

Pickens and Smith shared 2022 Rex Enright Defensive Player of the Spring honors.

Bell, a 6-3, 232-pound junior from Lake City, Fla., burst onto the national scene with a record-setting Duke’s Mayo bowl performance against North Carolina when he caught five passes for a career-high 159 yards and two touchdowns, earning a spot on the Associated Press’ All-Bowl Team. He finished the 2021 season with 30 receptions for 497 yards and five scores.

Vann, a 5-11, 192-pound “Super Senior” from Tucker, Ga., was the Steve Spurrier Award winner as the team’s offensive MVP in 2021. He caught 43 passes for 679 yards with five touchdowns. He enters the 2022 season with 90 career receptions, tying for 25th on the school’s all-time list.

The Gamecocks are scheduled to report for fall camp on Thursday, August 4, with the first practice slated for Friday, August 5.

2022 PRESEASON MEDIA DAYS ALL-SEC TEAM

OFFENSE

First-Team

QB - Bryce Young, Alabama

RB - Tank Bigsby, Auburn

RB - Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama

WR - Kayshon Boutte, LSU

WR - Jermaine Burton, Alabama

TE - Brock Bowers, Georgia

OL - Emil Ekiyor Jr., Alabama

OL - Warren McClendon, Georgia

OL - O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida

OL - Nick Broeker, Ole Miss

C - Ricky Stromberg, Arkansas

Second-Team

QB - Hendon Hooker, Tennessee

RB - Chris Rodriguez Jr., Kentucky

RB - Devon Achane, Texas A&

WR - Cedric Tillman, Tennessee

WR - Jonathan Mingo, Ole Miss

TE - Cameron Latu, Alabama

OL - Layden Robinson, Texas A&M

OL - Kenneth Horsey, Kentucky

OL - Darnell Wright, Tennessee

OL - Javion Cohen, Alabama

C - Sedrick Van Pran, Georgia

Third-Team

QB - Will Levis, Kentucky

RB - Zach Evans, Ole Miss

RB - Kenny McIntosh, Georgia

WR - Ainias Smith, Texas A&M

WR - Josh Vann, South Carolina

TE - Jaheim Bell, South Carolina

OL - Brady Latham, Arkansas

OL - Tyler Steen, Alabama

OL - Javon Foster, Missouri

*OL - Jeremy James, Ole Miss

*OL - Kendall Randolph, Alabama

C - Cooper Mays, Tennessee

DEFENSE

First-Team

DL - Jalen Carter, Georgia

DL - BJ Ojulari, LSU

DL - Derick Hall, Auburn

DL - Byron Young, Tennessee

LB - Will Anderson Jr., Alabama

LB - Nolan Smith, Georgia

LB - Henry To’oTo’o, Alabama

DB - Jordan Battle, Alabama

DB - Kelee Ringo, Georgia

DB - Eli Ricks, Alabama

DB - Jalen Catalon, Arkansas

Second-Team

DL - Zacch Pickens, South Carolina

DL - D.J. Dale, Alabama

DL - Ali Gaye, LSU

DL - Colby Wooden, Auburn

LB - Bumper Pool, Arkansas

LB - Dallas Turner, Alabama

LB - Brenton Cox Jr., Florida

DB - Cam Smith, South Carolina

DB - Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M

DB - Christopher Smith, Georgia

DB - Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State

Third-Team

DL - Gervon Dexter, Florida

DL - Justin Eboigbe, Alabama

DL - Maason Smith, LSU

DL - McKinnley Jackson, Texas A&M

LB - Owen Pappoe, Auburn

LB - Ventrell Miller, Florida

LB - Jeremy Banks, Tennessee

DB - Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama

DB - Trey Dean III, Florida

DB - Trevon Flowers, Tennessee

DB - Malachi Moore, Alabama

SPECIALISTS

First-Team

P - Nik Constantinou, Texas A&M

PK - Will Reichard, Alabama

RS - Kearis Jackson, Georgia

AP - Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama

Second-Team

P - Oscar Chapman, Auburn

PK - Anders Carlson, Auburn

RS - Ainias Smith, Texas A&M

AP - Devon Achane, Texas A&M

Third-Team

P - Paxton Brooks, Tennessee

PK - Harrison Mevis, Missouri

RS - JoJo Earle, Alabama

AP - Ainias Smith, Texas A&M

* - Indicates a tie

SEC PRESEASON MEDIA POLL

First place votes in ()

EASTERN DIVISION

School Points

Georgia (172) 1254

Kentucky (4) 932

Tennessee (1) 929

Florida 712

South Carolina (3) 662

Missouri 383

Vanderbilt (1) 196

WESTERN DIVISION

School Points

Alabama (177) 1262

Texas A&M (3) 968

Arkansas (1) 844

Ole Miss 675

LSU 591

Mississippi State 390

Auburn 338

SEC CHAMPION

School Points

Alabama 158

Georgia 18

South Carolina 3

Vanderbilt 1

Texas A&M 1