COLUMBIA, S.C. — In terms of physical makeup, both first-year linebackers on the South Carolina football team possess what Coleman Hutzler looks for at the position.
Under Armour All-American Rosendo Louis, a 4-star recruit from Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High School, and 3-star talent Ernest Jones IV (Waycross, Ga.) signed with the Gamecocks in December before reporting to campus a few weeks later.
“You’ve got certain sizes and certain builds and the game has changed so much, so much of a space game,” said Hutzler, South Carolina’s linebackers coach. “But we needed to go out and get guys with length and size and physicality and all the things that you check the box that you’re looking for in a linebacker and both [Jones] and Rosendo had that.”
Louis, who committed to Florida State before his senior season, has been available for the Gamecocks during most of spring practice, though he had to miss time this spring because of a family emergency.
“He was an impressive kid on tape,” Hutzler said. “When we went to his practice, [offensive line coach Eric Wolford] and I, we sat there at practice and said, ‘Wow.’ He was a really impressive kid with how he worked, how he hit, how he ran and how he went about his business, coming from a great program.”
Hutzler added, “I saw a 240-pound grown man run around and hit everything that moves. That’s what you need at linebacker.”
South Carolina’s coaches threw him into the mix at middle linebacker.
“He’s done a great job,” Hutzler said. “He’s learning how to practice. He’s learning how to do all the little things and have urgency about it. He’s a physical kid.”
Because he’s recovering from a back injury suffered in high school, Jones has had a lighter workload this spring.
“He can’t practice, but he’s at every meeting, he’s in every walk-through. He’s a really smart kid that’s going to absorb a lot, even without the reps,” Hutzler said.
The plan, for now, is to have Jones play at middle linebacker, but there’s a chance he could see time at the weakside position.
“Obviously, I haven’t seen him out there here now, running around and moving around and that’s the only thing at that [weakside] spot,” Hutzler said. “You’re going to get out in space a little, so we’ll see, but between the ears, mentally, he can handle it. He is a bright kid. He is off the charts. That is exciting, to have that value, to have that versatility.”