Redshirt freshman Sharrod Golightly is taking advantage of his opportunity to earn fall playing time with his effort this spring.
Golightly (5-10, 179) and Brison Williams (5-10, 206) are competing for the strong safety spot thanks to the Gamecocks making adjustments to its defensive personnel this spring.
"I think it's a healthy competition between both of use because we're still freshmen," Golightly said. "Us battling out for it will make us better in the long run."
Corey Addison (6-0, 209) also is in the mix at safety but has been limited because of a hamstring injury.
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This spring, Damario Jeffery has been moved from Spur to weakside linebacker, and DeVonte Holloman has been moved from strong safety to Spur. D.J. Swearinger is starting at free safety.
Assistant head coach for defense Ellis Johnson has said the changes won't be permanent unless younger players prove themselves at safety.
Golightly played safety at Southwest DeKalb High School in Decatur, Ga. He originally committed to Vanderbilt before selecting and signing with the Gamecocks.
How's your spring going so far?
Spring is going really well. I'm learning every day, trying to get into studying with Coach Johnson and Coach [Lorenzo] Ward. I still have a little more growing pains to go through. I'm making strides and getting better every day.
How does your approach change knowing you have a good chance to see playing time?
It changes your focus level. Of course when you come in you want to play. But when you see the opportunity right in front of you, you try to take advantage of it immediately.
Talk about the role of a defensive back overall.
Defensive back is a lot mental. You're the quarterback on the field for the defense. If you don't understand, most everybody else isn't going to understand. You have to know what you're doing. And you have to take the time to be in the film room.
Were the DBs' struggles last year a motivator to you this year?
Yes, it is motivating. You can fill in those gaps that were missing last year. I should take advantage of those mistakes, use it to my advantage and use it as a stepping stone for me to get better.
What are some of your goals this spring?
Some of my goals of course was to get on the playing field by any means necessary - special teams or on defense. Another goal was to show the upperclassmen that I was worthy of being on the field, whether it be in the film room or show them my strides, or show how much I care about being on the field.