USC’s most important defensive players for 2014: No. 9

06/24/2014 9:47 PM

06/24/2014 9:53 PM

Countdown note: GoGamecocks’ Josh Kendall, David Cloninger and Dwayne McLemore each ranked the 10 players most important to South Carolina’s defense in 2014. We took their predictions, compiled a composite list and are revealing it one player a day through July 2. (This is not a ranking of the team’s best players -- it’s our rank of the players who are most vital to the team’s success.)

9. Sharrod Golightly

South Carolina’s spur position remains in good hands.

Sharrod Golightly emerged as a junior in 2013 as the starter at the hybrid linebacker-safety position, starting all 12 regular season games there and finishing sixth on the team with 47 tackles, including six tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

He earned a spot on The Associated Press All-SEC second team and on Phil Steele’s third-team All-SEC unit.

Golightly and Jordan Diggs teamed up last year to help replace DeVonte Holloman at the spot. Golightly envisions the spur position playing a bigger role in this year’s defense than it did in 2013.

“Now that they know we can play, I think they are going to let us loose a little more,” he said.

Diggs had a strong spring and would like to be the starter. Larenz Bryant in his second season is a possibility to see snaps at spur as well.

Best-case scenario: Golightly remains the starter at spur and finishes his USC career strong. Golightly will have a lot of opportunities to intercept passes, if opponents do as expected and challenge the secondary early and often. He and Diggs again should provide stability to the position.

Stats: Has made 12 career starts. ... 57 tackles, two fumble recoveries and four passes broken up.

No. 10: Gerald Dixon Jr.


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