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Post-spring practice 2019 defensive depth Projections

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Post-spring practice 2019 defensive depth Projections

April 09, 2019

Now that spring practice is over, it’s time to take a  look and see at South Carolina’s post-spring depth chart for the fall of the 2019 season.

GAMECOCK PROJECTED DEPTH CHART DEFENSIVE END
NO. 1 Kingsley Enagbare
NO. 2 Aaron Sterling

Sterling is the returning starter from last season, but his run was marred by injuries and up-and-down play. Muschamp praised Enagbare multiple times through spring, and he did work in the spring game against a backup tackle. Enagbare is just more sturdy and is coming off a year playing tackle. With his talent, expect him to eventually find his way into starting. Defensive tackle Keir Thomas might also spend some time here.

One to watch:

Joseph Anderson. The big freshman is talented and showed some pop as an edge player.

GAMECOCK PROJECTED DEPTH CHART DEFENSIVE TACKLE
No. 1s Javon Kinlaw
No. 1s Kobe Smith
No. 2s  Keir Thomas
No. 2s Rick Sandidge
No. 3s Zacch Pickens
No. 3s Jabari Ellis

The Gamecocks suddenly have an army of options and will likely be playing most of them when it’s all said and done. Kinlaw and Thomas missed or played sparingly this spring, but both will have roles, as will Smith. Muschamp talked up Sandidge through spring, and his first year in the trenches in 2018 should serve him well. Pickens is a top-flight recruit, so he could well end up getting a lot of work if the light comes on. Junior college lineman Devontae Davis also joins the group. Last season, the Gamecocks opened the season with true freshman as their No. 4 and 5 options at tackle. At worst they’ll enter 2019 with the same top four, all a year older, plus a top-10 national recruit in the mix.

One to watch:

Pickens. He’s a five-star guy, potentially a game-changer when he realizes his talent. It just depends how soon that happens.

GAMECOCK PROJECTED DEPTH CHART MIDDLE LINEBACKER
No. 1  T.J. Brunson
No. 2 Ernest Jones

Brunson didn’t play all spring, but it’s hard to imagine he won’t be the guy come the fall. Jones showed some flashes in limited work last season, as he eschewed a redshirt to play in the bowl game. Derek Boykins came in this spring and delivered as a thumper, especially in the spring game. Considering the workload Brunson had last season, it’s likely someone could step in and reduce his snaps a bit.

One to watch:

Boykins. He’s big, fast and mobile. Last year’s freshmen had trouble breaking through, so it remains to be seen if this one will.

GAMECOCK PROJECTED DEPTH CHART BUCK
No. 1 D.J. Wonnum
No. 2 Brad Johnson

This group has been the same coming into the season the past two years, give or take Bryson Allen-Williams moonlighting. Wonnum is back from injury. If he is healthy, he’s a difference-making defensive player. Johnson has been steady and had moments in two seasons, but hasn’t done enough to become a full-time option at the position.

One to watch:

Rodricus Fitten. He isn’t the biggest true freshman, but he’s strong. With Wonnum almost assuredly departing next season, he’ll be one of the options to fill in here.

GAMECOCK PROJECTED DEPTH CHART MIDDLE LINEBACKER
No. 1 T.J. Brunson
No. 2 Ernest Jones

Brunson didn’t play all spring, but it’s hard to imagine he won’t be the guy come the fall. Jones showed some flashes in limited work last season, as he eschewed a redshirt to play in the bowl game. Derek Boykins came in this spring and delivered as a thumper, especially in the spring game. Considering the workload Brunson had last season, it’s likely someone could step in and reduce his snaps a bit.

One to watch:

Boykins. He’s big, fast and mobile. Last year’s freshmen had trouble breaking through, so it remains to be seen if this one will.

GAMECOCK PROJECTED DEPTH CHART WEAKSIDE LINEBACKER
No. 1 Sherrod Greene
No. 2 Damani Staley

Last season was certainly one where Greene looked like a sophomore taking on his first starting action. At times he was in position but needed to just finish a few more plays. The thing is, there isn’t much in the way of reinforcements so natural progression might have to suffice. The coaches spoke well of the steps Staley took in his second year. They’re adding a freshman in Jahmar Brown, but he’s not the biggest guy at under 200 pounds. He’s dynamic, and USC isn’t that far removed from an undersized ‘backer wreaking havoc as a freshman (Skai Moore).

One to watch:

Staley for the moment. He’s got some ability and showed flashes while transitioning from defensive end. Brown has potential, but might be too much of a wildcard right now.

GAMECOCK PROJECTED DEPTH CHART STRONGSIDE LINEBACKER
No. 1 Daniel Fennell
No. 2 Rosendo Louis

The staff has long liked what Fennell delivers in terms of flexibility and heft when opponents go with an extra back or tight end. A knee injury kept him out in spring, but it’s unlikely he’ll lose too much ground. Louis likewise was hurt and is looking to bounce back after a freshman year that fell short of expectations. The position is a bit of a part-time thing, as it usually gets replaced by a nickel against the majority of offenses. Almost everyone here will have another secondary position. Eldridge Thompson also spent some time there in the summer.

One to watch:

Louis. The staff talked up him a lot last summer, but he ended up playing sparingly.

GAMECOCK PROJECTED DEPTH CHART CORNER
No. 1 Jaycee Horn
No. 1  Israel Mukuamu
No. 2s TBA

So one or two freshmen are going to have to be factors here. Horn and Mukuamu have a lot of ability and could be backbones for this defense. But in spring, the guys behind them were assorted walk-ons. Four-star Cam Smith and intriguing recruit John Dixon will both be options in the fall; Shilo Sanders could be as well.

One to watch:

Smith will be the obvious one. He was supposed to be in for spring. He’s tall, long and showed out in an all-star setting. Of the guys on campus, go with Horn because he could well be an All-SEC guy next year.

GAMECOCK PROJECTED DEPTH CHART NICKEL
No. 1 R.J. Roderick
No. 2 Horn

 It’s a new position for Roderick, but he fits what the staff wants in terms of a bigger guy who can be a force in the run game but also work in coverage. He was bouncing between safety and nickel in the spring game (USC’s numbers on the back end are a mess), and the hope is he can stay at this spot. If not, it might fall to Horn, who played there last year, or incoming recruit Jammie Robinson.

One to watch:

Roderick. He’s two years removed from playing quarterback and stepping into a high-leverage spot. He’s got the speed and hitting ability the coaches want, but will he stay there?

GAMECOCK PROJECTED DEPTH CHART SAFETY
No. 1s J.T. Ibe
No. 1s Jamyest Williams
No. 2s Jaylin Dickerson
No. 2s Jamel Cook

Through the spring, Muschamp has seemed more and more confident in Ibe, despite a rocky run when healthy last season. He also identified Williams’ health as a key factor in being able to keep Roderick down at nickel. Dickerson has showed promise at points but has rarely been fully healthy. Cook has shown flashes and has a lot of talent, but Muschamp took him to task for both effort and getting on top of the scheme. Jonathan Gipson missed much of spring with a minor knee injury. One or two of the freshmen could help as well.

One to watch:

 Cook. If he puts it all together, he could give USC a difference-maker at the position. To this point, the best safety Muschamp has had was Chris Lammons, a converted corner who was eminently solid.

Edited by FeatheredCock

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