COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp said on Thursday morning that he’s planning to play nine first-year players on defense.
Muschamp shared some of the details about those freshmen and junior college transfers during an appearance on The All New Early Game on 107.5 The Game.
Because they’ll have so many newcomers contributing in some way, shape or form, Muschamp said he, defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson and the rest of South Carolina’s defensive brain trust “need to be careful about what we’re asking them to do.”
“Because, at the end of the day, it’s nine guys where I really don’t know how they’re going to respond in front of 80,000 people up in Charlotte,” Muschamp said, “So we’ve got to be careful about installation and what we’re asking them to do communication-wise and those sort of things.”
JUCO defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw was among the first-year players mentioned by name, so were Brad Johnson and Aaron Sterling, both of whom could provide some answers in the Gamecocks search for pass rushers.
“Javon Kinlaw has shown the ability to help us,” Muschamp said.
He added, “Aaron Sterling is a freshman that’s going to play for us this year, he’s a good football player. … Brad Johnson is going to play for us as a true freshman. He’s a good football player.”
Another JUCO transfer, linebacker Eldridge Thompson, will partner with Sherrod Greene as the second-team linebackers.
“At the linebacker position, I think Sherrod Greene is going to be a really good player. He’s a guy that’s got tremendous instincts, very bright, very intelligent,” Muschamp said.
In the secondary, Tavyn Jackson and Jamyest Williams are expected to help out at cornerback. JUCO transfer Keisean Nixon has received work at safety. Though Muschamp didn’t mention him by name on Thursday, freshman safety Jaylin Dickerson, who enrolled in January, will be another first-year contributor for South Carolina.
“It’s just a matter of the experience factor,” Muschamp said. “That’s something we’ve got to take into account as we plan and install and ask for them to do.”