COLUMBIA, S.C. – It took one rep for MJ Webb to make a strong first impression on his South Carolina teammates.
Webb, who graduated from Madison (Ga.) Morgan County last week, took part in his first practice Saturday. His first opportunity at taking a rep came in a one-on-one drill and he was ready.
“I don’t remember who he was going against, but he destroyed them,” senior defensive end Darius English said. “He struck the block, got off the block, made the tackle and everybody got excited. A lot of guys didn’t expect that to happen. I believe he is going to make a big impact for the future.”
The freshman defensive lineman is enrolling early at South Carolina for the spring semester. First, he is taking advantage of the option to participate in bowl practices as a high school graduate already admitted to the university that is not playing in a high school all-star game.
Last week, coach Will Muschamp said having an early enrollee get a jump on spring ball with bowl practices is a “win-win.”
“I think it’s going to help him a lot,” sophomore offensive lineman Zack Bailey said. “The earlier you get here, the more it’s going to benefit you. You’re going to learn plays faster. You’re going to learn faster than what other guys might. That’s going to give you that time, so I think it’s going to benefit him a lot.”
Bailey, whose locker is right next to Webb’s, said the incoming freshman has a personality that reminds him of offensive lineman Donell Stanley. He also said Webb is doing pretty well in his first few college practices as the Gamecocks prepare for the Birmingham Bowl against South Florida on Dec. 29.
“He’s over there with the twos right now, the young guys,” Bailey said. “He’s trying to get experience now, which is understandable. But from what I’ve seen, he’s pretty good.”
Bailey has talked with Webb a few times so far, something senior offensive tackle Mason Zandi said he will be sure to do this week.
“I’ll make it a point here in the next couple of days to introduce myself and see how he’s adjusting, see if I can lend any knowledge or experience to him,” Zandi said. “If a guy wants to come in a whole semester early and get some work done, that’s already a plus by me.”
Webb will be practicing with South Carolina through Thursday, the final practice in Columbia before the team breaks for Christmas. He cannot travel to Birmingham with the team when it departs on Dec. 26.
But he will come back to Columbia to begin classes in January and have a handful of practices under his belt when spring football rolls around.
“Overall, he’s great,” junior defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth said. “He’s going to build up when he comes here next semester. I can’t wait to play alongside with him.”