South Carolina football coaches and players fielded the question a few times in the early going of August camp.
Outside the three linebackers with experience — Skai Moore, Bryson Allen-Williams and T.J. Brunson — how many untested guys need to step up to round out a rotation?
The answers have usually been non-answers, all of them or as many as are willing. When those same coaches and players are asked who stood out early, one name came up first.
Defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson: “I’ve really been impressed with Sherrod Greene.”
Head coach Will Muschamp: “I think Sherrod Greene is going to be a really good player.”
Brunson on Greene: “He’s probably one of the faster linebackers that we have right now. ... From the newcomers, he’s definitely turned some heads.”
Camp hype is no perfect indicator of future performance, but it can be a sign of things to come. The speed aspect is also worth noting, as Greene came to campus as a beefier 6-foot-1, 223 pounds, heavier than all but one USC linebacker.
The Rocky Mount, N.C., product had 96 tackles and a pair of interceptions in an injury-marred senior season. As a junior, he had 154 tackles and five sacks for a state champion squad. He also spurned overtures from Alabama.
He was with the second-team linebackers in an early practice, through he also had trouble in a one-on-one blocking drill at the start of the second week of camp.
Greene’s high school coach, Jason Battle, said he mostly played in the box in high school, a product of the run-heavy attacks his team usually faced. That’s still a hurdle to overcome.
“He’s definitely got to get used to playing in space,” Brunson said. “He’s definitely going to be fine.”
If Greene can step into some kind of rotation role, is should give USC a solid base to work with. They relied heavily on three linebackers last season, with Brunson, Larenz Bryant and, in the opener, Chris Moody.
The rest of the group of newcomers has some interesting pieces.
“Eldridge Thompson is a guy,” Robinson said of the junior college transfer. “Damani (Staley) is a guy that’s coming along. We moved Davonne Bowen inside. He’s helping as well. We’ve just got to continue to work with him. It’s a lot of stuff we’re throwing at them, so when we saturate it to a gameday, gameplan-type deal, then it will be better.”
Thompson was a high school safety still trying to bulk up. Staley was a defensive end shifting to a new spot.
When asked about the experience behind the top three, Muschamp corrected the question that implied there was little of it behind them. There’s none.
“That’s where we are right now,” Muschamp said. “Those guys are going to have an opportunity. We told them in the recruiting process, you come here, you’re going to have an opportunity.”