One of the primary objectives for South Carolina coach Will Muschamp during spring practice was to keep all three scholarship linebackers healthy.
Now, the Gamecocks second-year coach shifts his focus to preseason camp, where Bryson Allen-Williams, T.J. Brunson and Skai Moore are set to be joined by a handful of first-year players, along with Antoine Wilder, who played defensive back as a redshirt freshman last year.
Wilder’s move to linebacker has shades of Chris Moody, who moved back and forth between safety and linebacker during Muschamp’s first year in Columbia.
Here’s a breakdown of South Carolina’s linebackers entering this season:
Man in the middle
Brunson, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound sophomore from Columbia, S.C., appeared in 11 games last season. He worked primarily on special teams and served as the backup to senior Jonathan Walton.
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The team’s official depth chart lists Moore as the No. 2 middle linebacker, but freshman Sherrod Greene (6-1, 223) could emerge as an understudy. Fellow 2017 signees Davonne Bowen (6-1, 218) and Eldridge Thompson (6-1, 215) are potential fits at middle linebacker, though they might end up in other spots.
After missing all of last season with a neck injury, Moore (6-2, 218) is on track to return for the first time since the 2015 Clemson game, during which he had a game-high 13 tackles. Moore has led the Gamecocks in tackles in each of the three seasons he played.
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Allen-Williams, also a senior, is listed after Moore on South Carolina’s depth chart, but Bowen and Thompson could work into the mix.
The slash mark between strongside linebacker and defensive back tends to blur, especially when the opposing offense regularly plays three or more wide receivers. Down and distance can have a say in the matter, too.
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Allen-Williams (6-0, 230) remains atop the Gamecocks’ depth chart with Wilder (5-10, 190) listed on the line below. Freshman Damani Staley (6-1, 205) is another potential fit at the position.
Allen-Williams, who might see some time at the Buck position, was second among Gamecocks defenders last season in tackles (75) and tackles for loss (8.5). Wilder started three of the 12 games he appeared in as a redshirt freshman, recording 15 tackles and 2 tackles for loss.
Official roster listing
- (No. 4) Bryson Allen-Williams (6-0, 230) – Senior
- (No. 10) Skai Moore (6-2, 218) – RS Senior
- (No. 11) Eldridge Thompson (6-1, 215) – Junior *
- (No. 29) Antoine Wilder (5-10, 190) – RS Sophomore
- (No. 6) T.J. Brunson (6-1, 230) – Sophomore
- (No. 30) Damani Staley (6-1, 210) – Freshman *
- (No. 44) Sherrod Greene (6-1, 223) – Freshman *
- (No. 54) Davonne Bowen (6-1, 228) – Freshman *
All players listed above are on scholarship
* Denotes first-year players