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Aug. 18, 2016 will take a position-by-position look at the South Carolina football roster leading up to the September 1 season opener at Vanderbilt. Today we will focus on the offensive line.

Lettermen Returning: Zack Bailey, Blake Camper, Alan Knott, D.J. Park, Christian Pellage, Donell Stanley, Mason Zandi.

Lettermen Lost: Mike Matulis, Brandon Shell, Will Sport, Brock Stadnik, Clayton Stadnik, Cody Waldrop.

Squadmen Returning: Trey Derouen, Cory Helms, Malik Young.

Roster Newcomers: Chandler Farrell, Sadarius Hutcherson, Cameron Johnson, Pika Leota, Will Putnam, Darius Whitfield.

The strength of this year’s offense figures to be up front in the trenches along the offensive line. Despite losing three starters, including Brandon Shell, a fifth-round pick of the New York Jets in the 2016 NFL Draft, offensive line coach Shawn Elliott has a good blend of youth and experience from which to draw.

Fifth-year senior Mason Zandi, a 6-9, 315-pound local product from Chapin, S.C., anchors the line. He moves from right tackle to left for his final season to protect the quarterback’s blind side. Zandi has developed from a lightly-recruited player into one of the team leaders, both on and off the field, under Coach Elliott’s tutelage.

The Gamecocks received a boost with the addition of junior Cory Helms. Helms, a 6-4, 310-pounder from Alpharetta, Ga., was a 2013 Freshman All-American at Wake Forest, and is eligible this season after sitting out the 2015 campaign following his transfer. He is expected to start at either guard or center.

Redshirt junior Alan Knott entered the fall penciled in as the starter at center, but the 6-4, 290-pounder from Tyrone, Ga. has been limited in fall camp with a hand injury, which hampers his snapping ability. He has spent more time at guard in the early part of fall camp.

Zack Bailey, a 6-6, 315-pound sophomore, who earned a spot on the SEC All-Freshman team a year ago, is also capable of playing either guard or center. He had always played guard before injuries forced him to play center for the first time in his career last season, and he handled that duty admirably.

Sophomore Donell Stanley, a 6-4, 325-pounder from Floydale, S.C., and junior D.J. Park, a 6-4, 330-pounder from Dillon, S.C., have been manning the right side of the line for much of the fall camp and have improved tremendously since arriving on campus.

The Gamecocks have solid depth behind that front line, including sophomores Blake Camper, Christian Pellage and Malik Young, who are all capable of stepping into the lineup.

Redshirt freshman Trey Derouen was not able to practice in the spring due to a knee injury and continues to be a bit behind the others. A number of newcomers will try to get in the mix early on. True freshmen Sadarius Hutcherson, Pika Leota, Will Putnam and Darius Whitfield are scholarship players, while Chandler Farrell and Cameron Johnson join the squad as walk-ons and will provide depth up front. Whitfield made the transition to the offensive line from the defensive line during the preseason camp, while Farrell, a 6-2, 280-pounder from Summerville, S.C., has impressed the coaches to the point where he is expected to contribute this season.