Picking only four South Carolina players for a football Mount Rushmore requires sorting through different eras, different conferences and a long stretch of no conference affiliation at all.

We can all agree on Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers.

Then what?

Sterling Sharpe didn't have to play against Southeastern Conference defenses.

But Warren Muir didn't get to play in a Steve Spurrier-coached offense.

Remember, it's harder to pile up sacks playing from behind than it is while playing on a bowl-bound SEC East title contender.

So many good players, no room to take granite for granted.

Final four

(chronological order)

George Rogers (1977-80). Won the Heisman in 1980. The Gamecocks' only College Football Hall of Fame player. Rogers, USC's career rushing leader, led the nation with 1,894 yards as a senior.

Sterling Sharpe (1983-87). Isn't the school career leader in any major statistical category but his No. 2 jersey is retired for good reason: relative dominance. Sharpe led the Gamecocks in receiving three times, punt returns twice and kickoff returns once.

Marcus Lattimore (2010-2012). Played in only 29 games, but head coach Steve Spurrier and others laud Lattimore as the star leader of the Gamecocks' current three-year run that includes 31 wins. First in career touchdowns and rushing touchdowns despite all the injuries. Sixth on the career rushing list.

Jadeveon Clowney (2011-present). Yes, already. Critics will point out he has played two seasons and not always consistently. Clowney wasn't even the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 (Jarvis Jones of Georgia). But with a school-record 13 sacks and big-play drama, he finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting — better than any Gamecock except Rogers. Oh, and ask Michigan.

Near miss

Eric Norwood (2006-2009). Start with three first-team All-SEC seasons. Then consider Norwood as a linebacker led or tied for the team lead in sacks each of his four years. A first-team All-American in 2009. USC's career sacks (29) and tackles for loss (54.5) leader.

Underrated

Brandon Bennett (1991-94). Only George Rogers has more career rushing yards than Bennett (3,055). A school-record 278 yards vs. East Tennessee State in 1991. Second to Rogers in career all-purpose yards.

Argument worthy

Everyone has favorites. There are too many to mention, but here are some of the most prominent:

• Harold Green (1986-89) led the Gamecocks in rushing three straight seasons on the way to a decade-long NFL career.

• Steve Taneyhill (1992-95) led the Gamecocks to their first bowl win (1995 Carquest Bowl). Career touchdown pass leader. Two wins over Clemson.

• Steve Wadiak (1948-51) remains fourth on the career rushing list and was a second-team All-American.

• Alshon Jeffery (2009-2011) is USC's leading career receiver by yards and second-leading receiver by touchdowns.

• Bobby Bryant (1964-66). The former Minnesota Vikings standout safety was a versatile football player and stellar baseball pitcher.

• Alex Hawkins (1956-58). Rugged running back was ACC Player of the Year in 1958 before an eight-year NFL career.

• Warren Muir (1967-69). Twice a first-team All-American. Productive running back (2,234 career yards). Led USC to the 1969 ACC title.

• Kenny McKinley (2005-2008). More career catches than any USC receiver. Led USC in punt returns twice.

• Del Wilkes (1980-84). A ferocious guard. Consensus All-American in 1984. Went on to become a professional wrestler.

• Todd Ellis (1986-89). Gamecocks radio play-by-play voice leads USC in career passing yards (9,953) and quarterback wins (24).

• Fred Zeigler (1967-69) was a prolific pass catcher before quick-strike offenses hit college football. He departed as USC's career receiving leader (146 catches), was All-ACC twice and in his last game caught 10 passes in a 27-13 victory over Clemson.

• Billy Gambrel (1960-62). The 1962 ACC Player of the Year, one of only two Gamecocks to win the award (Alex Hawkins).

• Dick Harris (1969-71). First-team All-American. A defensive back and kick/punt returner who scored six touchdowns. Had a 96-yard kickoff return and 94-yard interception return for TDs in a 52-34 loss at Georgia. All-ACC in 1970.

• Kalimba Edwards (1998-2001). Linebacker was All-SEC twice. First-team All-American in 2001.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff