South Carolina’s Jonathan Walton makes the switch to offense: “My teammates call me a traitor”
Jonathan Walton came to South Carolina because he wanted to play linebacker, but he doesn’t want you to forget he averaged 10 yards per carry in high school.
The second-string strongside linebacker made his debut on the offensive side of the ball against Tennessee last Saturday, hauling in a 10-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.
Walton continues to be listed as a linebacker on South Carolina’s depth chart, but he said he is absolutely going to have a role in the offense moving forward.
“They have me listed as the SAM linebacker, but I’m a little bit of a fullback also,” Walton said during South Carolina’s press conference Tuesday. “(My defensive teammates) call me a hybrid because of all the little offensive-defensive things we’ve got going on that we argue and fight over. They call me a hybrid traitor. I get that every now and then.”
Walton played both sides of the ball in high school. On offense, he came in for short-yardage situations. He was so successful he was recruited as an H-back by Auburn.
However, Walton wanted to test himself at linebacker at the collegiate ranks.
Walton has received limited reps on defense throughout his junior season. He received a text from interim coach Shawn Elliott last Monday to meet with running backs coach Everette Sands.
After installing packages catered around Walton, he’s now relishing his new role on the team.
“It just didn’t work out the first time,” Walton admitted. “The second time, it was going to work out and I was going to make the best of it.”
Walton believes some of his other defensive teammates searching for playing time or new opportunities could be on the hook for making a switch as well.
Elliott said Tuesday he has always evaluated players to find their best fit as opposed to a certain side of the ball.
South Carolina’s interim coach said there could be another Jonathan Walton for this coming week against Florida.
“As a coach, you evaluate a player whether they’re on offense or defense,” Elliott said. “You try to take your best players and put them in the best position to be successful this week. Maybe it’s someone different this week. I hope so.”