COLUMBIA, S.C. — Through the first four games of the season, South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp has played several of the players who signed with his 2017 recruiting class.
Three of those first-year players have started two games: Wide receiver Shi Smith, defensive back Jamyest Williams and left tackle Dennis Daley.
Wide receiver OrTre Smith and defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, both of whom received a starting nod against Louisiana Tech on Saturday, have appeared in every game like Williams and Shi Smith.
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OrTre Smith, who has 3 catches for 45 yards and 2 touchdowns, will remain at wide receiver, even though his size (6-foot-4, 219 pounds) might suggest that his future could be at tight end.
“He’s a wideout,” Muschamp said. “He’s just a matchup issue. He’s a guy who’s going to create some problems when you have smaller guys out there covering him.”
The 28-yard touchdown catch against Louisiana Tech was a flash of the 4-star ability that landed him an invite to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
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“Going and getting the ball, knowing there was a middle field safety about to smack him, coming out of the middle of the field, he’s just a big-bodied man,” Muschamp said. “To have guys like that with a little more girth and strength are very difficult to defend.”
Fellow wide receiver Chad Terrell has also appeared in every game, along with JUCO transfer linebacker Eldridge Thompson, defensive end Aaron Sterling and linebacker Sherrod Greene.
“You look at Sherrod Greene and Eldridge Thompson as two guys that have done some nice things,” Muschamp said. “Aaron Sterling continues to come on defensively. In Dante [Sawyer’s] absence, his role expanded a little bit more.”
Linebacker/defensive end Brad Johnson, defensive back Keisean Nixon and linebacker Damani Staley have also seen action.
“Certainly, we need Brad Johnson to step up for us,” Muschamp said. “He played some [Saturday]. Continues to come on. He gives us some fast-twitch in the rush. He’s a heavy-handed guy that can play the run extremely well, a guy that we’re excited about.”
Nixon, another JUCO transfer, began his career with the Gamecocks at safety, but he’s now working at cornerback.
“He certainly is a guy that we have a lot of confidence in and continues to develop and learn what we do and how we do it,” Muschamp said. “He certainly could be a guy that we could rely on.”
By the numbers
- Shi Smith: 9 catches for 84 yards
- Terrell: 2 catches for 11 yards
- Williams: 16 tackles, 1 interception
- Sterling: 7 tackles, 1 tackle for loss
- Greene: 6 tackles
- Kinlaw: 2 tackles
- Thompson: 1 tackle