Breakout season for Heard?

PHOTO: CHRIS GILLESPIE

PHOTO: CHRIS GILLESPIE

Could Carlton Heard be in line for an Ace Sanders-like breakout season?

The 2012 football season was one to be remembered for Gamecock fans, both for the extraordinary triumphs in wins over Georgia and Clemson, as well as the what-could-have-beens against LSU and Florida. 

A huge part of that 2012 team was Ace Sanders, a player who entered the season without much fanfare averaging 350 yards receiving and two touchdowns in his first two seasons in Columbia.

Sanders became a highlight reel of big plays in his final season both on offense and special teams, putting up 11 touchdowns and 967 yards of total offense.

Carton Heard comes into the 2015 season with much less known about him than Sanders back in 2012. Heard, a walk-on transfer from Gardner-Webb, has yet to put up any offensive stats in a Carolina uniform.

Despite his lack of game experience, Heard has spent the last two years impressing coaches in practice with his hard work and commitment to becoming more than just a special team’s player.

Along with quickly earning a scholarship spot in 2014, coaches named Heard the most improved wide receiver last spring.

Even before arriving in Columbia, Heard racked up 422 yards for an average of 13.6 yards per catch in his lone season of action at Gardner-Webb.

Heard’s dedication and impressive work-ethic in practice finally has him slated as one of the team’s starting receivers ahead of the opening game in Charlotte this Thursday. 

Though he stands roughly half a foot taller than Sanders, the diminutive and speedy deadlocked receiver has the look and talent to give fans a feeling of déjà-vu of watching one of the stand-out players from 2012.

Could it happen?