Kadetrix Marcus walked slowly off South Carolina’s practice fields Tuesday night, 20 minutes after most of his teammates.
Marcus knows he can’t replace everything the Gamecocks lost in former starter D.J. Swearinger, but he at least wants to replicate that part of Swearinger’s preparation at the safety position.
“He was always the last man off this field in practice, and I am trying to continue to do the same every day I am out here,” Marcus said.
For now, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior is the favorite to replace Swearinger in the starting lineup at free safety.
“He’s the starter as of today,” defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said. “He’s done well, and he continuing to get better. The job is still up in the air, but he’s shown so far that he is trying to win it.”
Marcus, who will have to hold off T.J. Gurley when Gurley returns from a knee injury this fall, knows he won’t be the talker or the emotional leader Swearinger was for the Gamecocks, he said.
“No sir, everybody is their own player,” he said. “A leader will come on at some point in the season when we need them, but I am just trying to fill the void we are missing right now, and that’s playing safety.”
That does include playing the enforcer role that Swearinger filled, Marcus said.
“That’s something I focus on, being physical and intimidating receivers,” he said. “Being physical is a big part of my game.”
Marcus played mostly special teams as a freshman in 2011 and then played in 12 games last season as a backup to strong safety Brison Williams. He has combined for six tackles in two years.
“I still have a lot to prove,” he said. “The best man wins the job. I just can’t take any days off right now.”
While Marcus’ given name is Kadetrix, his teammates and coaches call him “J.J.,” which has been his nickname since childhood, he said, although he can’t tell you the origins of the nickname.
“My dad’s name is John. My sister’s name is B.J.,” he said. “It was just easier to call me J.J. Everybody calls me J.J. It’s easier to pronounce.”