Don’t worry; South Carolina’s leading prep powerhouse will be back in a big way despite the loss of RB Marcus Lattimore, perhaps the nation’s best at his position, and QB Chas Dodd, who is bound for Rutgers after a strong senior year.
Lattimore’s job will fall to rising junior Shakeem Wharton, a cousin of the Carolina Panthers' Travelle Wharton. Shakeem's stats weren't overwhelming in 2009 because he usually played late when the game was in hand and the opponent knew Byrnes would run the ball. Still, he rushed for 206 yards on 47 carries and scored 3 TDs, and showed good hands in catching 10 passes for 139 yards and a score. Expect him to rush for over 1,500 yards in 2010.
Quarterback will be handled by rising senior Zach Blair, Dodd’s backup in ’09. Blair, who is 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, has the arm and intelligence to be a more-than-competent replacement for Dodd. As a junior, he obviously had limited playing time, but still managed to complete 41 of 73 passes for 586 yards, with 6 TDs and 3 picks. He also rushed for 38 yards on 11 carries. Byrnes coaches will tell you that Blair could have started for most of the teams in the state last year. Now he’ll do so on the state’s biggest prep stage.