Ex-Auburn football QB1 Robby Ashford loses South Carolina QB battle -- for now

Auburn Tigers quarterback Robby Ashford (9) scores against UMass during their game at Jordan-Hare
Auburn Tigers quarterback Robby Ashford (9) scores against UMass during their game at Jordan-Hare / Mickey Welsh / Advertiser / USA TODAY

Former Auburn football QB1 Robby Ashford won't be South Carolina's starter come Week 1 of the 2024 season, barring injury or a change of heart from Gamecocks head coach Shane Beamer, after LaNorris Sellers was announced the top QB in SC's room on May 6.

Beamer stressed, though, that Sellers needs to continue earning his job.

“I’ll tell you guys what I told LaNorris and all the quarterbacks coming out of spring practice. ‘Coming out of spring practice, LaNorris (Sellers) is our starting quarterback,’” Beamer said viaOn3’s Gamecock Central. “But, just like all of our positions, we’ll continue to compete at all positions.

“So, I told Robby Ashford, the moment that I say that at a Gamecock Club event, the headline’s going to be, ‘Beamer names LaNorris Sellers starting quarterback.’ LaNorris is the starting quarterback coming out of spring, but like I told LaNorris and like I told Robby, Robby did a great job during spring practice along with our other quarterbacks. LaNorris did a great job and I expect LaNorris to continue to compete and earn that position as well.”

Robby Ashford went to South Carolina with a chance to start after Auburn football transfer

Ashford was never meant to simply be competition for Sellers, despite what the optics may look like now after Beamer's decision. As The War Rapport's Mike Gittens told me in January, Ashford became a Gamecock with a legitimate chance to earn the QB1 role.

"Talent evaluation can be subjective in nature," Gittens prefaced before saying, "Hugh Freeze did not feel like Robby Ashford was an SEC caliber QB but Shane Beamer does. Not only does he believe that but the thinking inside the building is that he will be the best QB in the room once he steps on campus. I think it’s his job to lose. Sure he can lose it but his chances of starting over Doty are good."

Ashford definitely suffered from an unclear role in 2023, with Hugh Freeze never seriously considering him for the starting job. While there wasn't "rust" per say, last season was a step back in his career from a mental standpoint after leading the Tigers in 2022 under Cadillac Williams.