COLUMBIA, S.C. — David Williams is ready for his chance to be South Carolina’s feature running back.
The former 4-star recruit from Philadelphia patiently has waited his turn to be the starter since arriving in Columbia in 2013. On Tuesday, he opened preseason camp atop the Gamecocks depth chart.
Williams, a redshirt junior, has rushed for 555 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He’s eclipsed 10 or more carries in five games while working as backup to Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds.
“I think it was tough, but at times, it kind of messed with my confidence,” Williams said. “I’d come out and have a good practice all week then you get to the game, they tell you to be ready and you don’t play a lot. When you get to the game, I would get the ball three or four times.”
Assuming he holds on to the starting job, Williams could be looking at 20-25 carries per game in 2016.
“That’s great for me. I’m one of those running backs, the more carries I get, the better I get, because I just get a feel for the game,” he said. “I feel like, being a running back you need a feel for the game. You can’t just go out and expect to break off 100 yards on five or six carries in the SEC.”
Redshirt freshman A.J. Turner, who’s listed at No. 2 on the depth chart, said Williams has made strides since the end of last season.
“He’s been really working hard. He’s been doing extra,” Turner said. “We’re all doing extra. We’re all trying to do better. We’re all trying to get that spot, so it’s really competitive right now.”
Both running backs have enjoyed the first seven months with their new position coach, Bobby Bentley.
“It’s been great. Coach Bentley says he works for me, so he’s been doing any little thing he can do to help me,” Williams said. “He sits down, breaks down film and tells me what he feels like I need to work on, then incorporates to practice, to make me a better player.”
Turner called Bentley a “great” teacher.
“(Bentley) never moves on when people are behind, no man is ever left behind in the film room, which is what I really admire, because I know last year wasn’t like that,” Turner said. “It was more focused on the guys that were getting the playing time, guys that were counted on to play. Now, it’s just everybody, nobody is lost. Everybody is moving together as a team.”
For a program entering the season with a first-year head coach, that has to be a good thing.