After a breakout fall at left guard, South Carolina junior offensive lineman Zack Bailey will spend his spring at right tackle.
“Zack is a good enough athlete to play on the edge,” Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp said Wednesday in announcing the potential switch. “We felt he would handle the move the best. It’s about finding the best five guys.”
Bailey, a 6-foot-6, 315-pound Summerville native, will share time with junior Blake Camper at right tackle this spring with the eye on earning the full-time starting job for the fall.
“The transition is great. They’re taking baby steps for me,” Bailey said. “It’s not like they are throwing me into the fire. I’m processing it. It’s challenging, and I like that. I like the fact that it’s challenging me and forcing me to learn more about the game. Versatility is a great thing, here and later on.”
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Bailey has started 18 games in his career, including all 13 last year at left guard.
South Carolina will open spring practice, its second under Muschamp, on Saturday. The Gamecocks will work junior Malik Young and redshirt freshman Sadarius Hutcherson at left tackle to open spring practice.
Sophomore quarterback Brandon McIlwain, who started three games last year, still is “battling to be our starter,” Muschamp said, but he’ll be doing that from the baseball field this spring.
McIlwain is not expected to participate in any of the football team’s spring drills although he has been involved in the team’s offseason program and morning meetings, Muschamp said. McIlwain will focus this spring on baseball, Muschamp said.
McIlwain, who did not make an appearance in the first week of the baseball season, did not attend Wednesday’s football player media availability.
Sophomore tight end Evan Hinson will remain with the basketball team this spring, Muschamp said.
There are three names that may not be familiar to South Carolina fans that will go a long way toward determining the Gamecocks success this season, Muschamp said. The are reserve defensive tackles Stephon Taylor, Kobe Smith and Aaron Thompson.
“A huge part of our success is going to be how those three guys continue to come on for us,” Muschamp said.
Redshirt freshman Alex Woznick is the frontrunner to win the place-kicking job, although Michael Almond also will compete for the job.
Skai Moore will play weakside linebacker this season, with T.J. Brunson in the middle and Bryson Allen-Williams on the strong side in the base defensive package.
Brunson, who wore No. 44 last year, is now wearing No. 6. Defensive lineman Keir Thomas has switched from No. 18 to No. 5.