Teammates greeted Chris Moody with high-fives and shouts of “Moody!” after he made an interception during the seven-on-seven portion of spring practice.
The very next play, quarterback Connor Mitch connected downfield with receiver Shaq Roland. Moody whiffed on an attempt to break up the play.
Consistency is a top priority this spring, says Moody, who’s backing up Brison Williams at strong safety and working to stay in the rotation in the fall.
“I might make a play here and there and then mess up on something easy,” he said. “It’s been like that since we’ve been out here. It’s going to turn around for me.”
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Moody, Kyle Fleetwood and Chaz Elder are all in backup roles at the safety spots as redshirt freshmen. Moody, a 6-foot-1, 210-pounder from McDonough, Ga., worked at cornerback and safety when he arrived on campus last year and expects to stick at safety moving forward.
His goals this spring are to get better each practice, perfect his technique and turn his efforts into playing time in the fall – as a defensive back, on special teams, or both.
Williams, a junior, likes what he’s seen so far from his understudy.
“He’s doing a lot of good things back there,” Williams said. “He’s making some plays but he’s also messing up a little bit. He’s just young. He’ll get better.”
Secondary coach Grady Brown is seeking consistency from all his players, he said. Moody has been impressive at times, Brown said, but has also missed on plays he could have made.
“He’s shown me that he’s put in some work and wants to be a good football player and wants to get some playing time and compete for a starting job,” Brown said. “If he continues on the path that he’s on right now, he’ll be a good player for us.”
The secondary is adjusting this spring with the loss of seniors D.J. Swearinger and Akeem Auguste. Sophomore T.J. Gurley is recovering from a knee injury. Williams and Kadetrix Marcus are currently the projected starters at the safety spots.
Coaches told him he’s a smooth athlete who needs to be more aggressive, said Moody, who believes playing quarterback in high school gives him an edge as a defensive back.
“I know what the quarterback might be thinking,” he said. “I know what’s going to go on. I can dissect it from back there.”
Moody had one interception Saturday during pre-scrimmage drills. He puts stock in turnovers, he said, but knows he can’t give up a reception the next time he’s tested.
He’s getting his most meaningful snaps as a Gamecock this spring. It’s a chance to show coaches what he’s learned since arriving on campus last summer, he said.
“I feel a lot smarter,” he said. “When I came here I didn’t know anything. Running it every day in practice, I know it like a vet now – at least the easy stuff. Right now I’m hanging with these guys. I know all of it. I just have to show I can play.”