South Carolina defensive line coach Lance Thompson worked several of his first-year players into the Gamecocks’ rotation. Tackle Kobe Smith got snaps, end-turned-tackle Kier Thomas made a couple starts and D.J. Wonnum was the top reserve at the Buck position.
The team brought in a smaller group this season off a large one in 2016, and Thompson broke his group down.
“Three-technique defensive lineman, about 6-foot-6, 310, 315. He’s going to be a guy that adds just mass, girth to us, to the interior defensive line. Will be a good player in the run game. Will be a guy in the pass game that hopefully can push the pocket. First things first, just getting him finished (in junior college) in May and getting him here in the summer.”
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“M.J. is a delightful young man. He’s here on campus right now, working out with us, doing a great job, got a great attitude, works hard. He’s a guy that is versatile, can be an inside player or possibly play six-technique. Now we’ve just got him working hard, getting to know the South Carolina way.”
“A guy that was committed to Alabama early on, but changed his commitment midway though the process, been over here to South Carolina. Is a really good technical football player, six technique. Can rush the quarterback, very instinctive. Excited about having him.”
South Carolina loses four rotation linemen, including starting Buck Darius English. They had three scholarship players redshirt.
The top returners of the group include Dante Sawyer and Taylor Stallworth, plus Wonnum and Thomas. The roster also has a few former highly-rated prospects who have yet to see much time on the field.