COLUMBIA, S.C. — The defense on the South Carolina football team needs to replace three starters from the 2017 secondary.
Coach Will Muschamp has a couple of starters back for 2018, including cornerback Rashad Fenton and safety Jamyest Williams, who started at nickel as a freshman last season. That’s a start.
But there’s a lot of work to be done.
“We’ve got to get better across the board in the secondary,” Muschamp said Saturday after the spring game. “We’ve got to get more guys that are going to be game-ready, to play. Obviously, Jam [Williams] being out [for the spring game] – he’s a very dependable player for us that’s going to be a good player for us next year.
“The corner position, at safety, nickel, we’ve got to continue to have more guys that are going to be game-ready in the fall.”
Senior Keisean Nixon is expected to have a starting job this season, perhaps as the nickel back. Muschamp told reporters that Nixon is “probably our best fit for that position,” but cornerback is also an option.
“Because he’s one of the better guys we’ve got outside,” Muschamp said.
Freshmen Israel Mukuamu and R.J. Roderick, both of whom lined up on the second-team defense Saturday, are among the handful of names in the conversation for playing time this season.
Mukuamu plays cornerback and Roderick is a safety.
“A guy that’s got some natural instincts,” Muschamp said of Roderick. “He’s an outstanding athlete. He can bend in his lower body.
“Israel is going to be a good football player for us. He’s going to continue to get stronger, so he can win on some of the routes down the field against some of the bigger receivers.”
Two more defensive back signees from the Gamecocks’ 2018 class will arrive later this year, 4-star cornerback Jaycee Horn and 3-star safety Jonathan Gipson.
Rice graduate transfer safety J.T. Ibe will compete for time at safety with senior Steven Montac and redshirt junior Javon Charleston, both of whom played with the first-team defense during the spring game.