The South Carolina football team added 20 signees during early signing period last month. Thirteen of those prospects are early enrollees.
The group was greeted by coach Will Muschamp on Tuesday, arriving in Columbia for the spring semester, which begins Jan. 16.
In this two-part series, we take a look at the players who are slated to play on defense.
RELATED: The early enrollees on offense
From Muschamp: “A big, long athlete who’s 6-4, 260. Won the state final over Rabun County. On the first play of the game, they throw a little bubble pass. At 260, he outran everybody to the ball. This guy’s got a tremendous upside, extremely intelligent.”
Early impact? Three of South Carolina’s top defensive linemen from 2017 are gone, two of whom were tackles. If Enagbare works inside, he could be in the mix for a spot in the rotation in 2018, though the same could be said if he stays out on the edge.
From Muschamp: “We were excited about him last year. Felt like, with him having surgery, would rather not have him start his clock coming onto campus.”
Early impact? Three of South Carolina’s top defensive linemen from 2017 are gone. Like Enagbare, if Johnson works inside he could be in the mix for a spot in the rotation in 2018.
LB Ernest Jones
From Muschamp: “Ernest is really smart, instinctive, tough, a guy that can make all the calls and has got a tremendous upside. He’s going to know about work ethic. He’s going to know about toughness and that’s exciting, to get a guy like that as a part of our program.”
Early impact? T.J. Brunson, a junior, is set to return to his starting middle linebacker job, so Jones will have his work cut out, but at the very least, Jones could be an early special teams contributor.
From Muschamp: “He can play all four linebacker spots. He can play Sam, Mike, Will or Buck. He’s got pass-rush ability. He’s a guy that’s got tremendous upside. He is a head-butter. I went and watched him play, getting ready for the state playoffs last year in December, down in Deerfield. I left the practice field, I looked at T-Rob and said, ‘He’s one of us.’ ”
Early impact? Like Jones, Louis could be an early special teams contributor, but his future could be dependent upon which linebacker spot Muschamp and Coleman Hutzler have in mind for him and returning starter Bryson Allen-Williams.
From Muschamp: “Excited to keep him in-state. Again, another guy, you’re talking in terms of length, physicality and intelligence and this guy can really run on the top end. He can really finish down the field. He’s got really good ball skills. Very tough, physically, and an extremely bright and intelligent player.”
Early impact? With three starters gone from last season’s secondary, Mukuamu will be one of several young defensive backs in the mix this spring for two-deep spots on the depth chart.
DB RJ Roderick
From Muschamp: “He’s got man-coverage ability. He’s got zone instincts. … I coached a lot of guys that didn’t play defensive back in high school, like Earl Thomas, LaRon Landry, Travis Daniels, Corey Webster, that played quarterback only in high school. If I’m a high school coach, I’m going to put my best player playing quarterback, too.”
Early impact? Mostly a quarterback in high school, Roderick will, for the most part, be learning a new position/side of the ball. How soon he’s able to adjust — it shouldn’t take long — could determine how soon he’s able to contribute.