Before South Carolina’s 2016 football season, the Gamecocks coaching staff hinted that linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams would have to factor in the Gamecocks pass rush.
For the most part, he remained a linebacker, rolling in at the weakside spot, moving to the team’s Buck position in a few packages. The 2017 Gamecocks have less proven depth at linebacker, but the tune hasn’t changed.
“I think Bryson needs to have a big year for us,” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said. “He’s a guy that’s going to be able to play stack linebacker as well as rush. He’s got really natural rush instincts.”
In 2016, Allen-Williams got to the quarterback twice, tied for second on the team, and registered one hurry. Both sacks came while lining up at linebacker.
Through spring, the Gamecocks had three scholarship linebackers available – Allen-Williams, Skai Moore (returning from missing last season) and T.J. Brunson (a sophomore). The group will be bolstered by an influx of young, athletic linebackers, several of whom could find their way into playing Buck, where USC has one returning contributor – D.J. Wonnum.
As a junior, Allen-Williams did manage to find his place in the lineup aver several inconsistent years. The former four-star prospect shifted between rush linebacker and defensive end as a freshman and bounced in and out of the rotation as a sophomore. Last season, he was second on the team in tackles despite only starting seven games.
Allen-Williams will be counted on in a big way again in 2017. The only question is where, and his coach has faith in his skills in either role.
“He’s able to flip his hips and move his hands and feet at the same time, which is hard for some guys,” Muschamp said. “But he also plays extremely well in space at linebacker, played really well for us last year. We’re expecting a big year from Bryson.”