The South Carolina football team finds itself with a small glut of pieces at linebacker.
Starter T.J. Brunson is back. Eldridge Thompson and Sherrod Greene got extensive work as reserves in 2017. Bryson Allen-Williams hardly left the field between Buck and strongside linebacker before a shoulder injury ended his season in the fourth game. Antoine Wilder played there most of the season, but was at safety during the bowl, and Daniel Fennell got work there late in the year (he also played Buck).
So there might not be that many leftover snaps to fight over, but there was one name intriguing a few players and coaches.
“Davonne Bowen, he’s going to be a good player,” Gamecocks linebacker Skai Moore said. “He’s battling some injuries and stuff right now. He’s been working with (Jeff) Dillman and all that.”
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Moore got to watch the work Bowen was able to do up close, as he redshirted last season. Bowen came into his first season in Columbia as a bit of a wildcard. At 6-foot-1, 218 pounds, he could potentially fit a range of spots, but defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson said Bowen was put at inside linebacker early last August.
Will Muschamp said Bowen had done some nice things in the middle of the season, and at the bowl, hinted he had shown more potential.
“Davonne Bowen shows up with flashes at times,” Muschamp said.
The question is how those flashes show up. Bowen looks the part of a thicker, stocky player. That might serve well at linebacker. But he is also a former defensive end, with 14 sacks as a high school junior before moving to linebacker and was fast enough to run the 100-meter dash in under 11 seconds.
Before he arrived on campus, coaches said there might be some potential at Buck. He also could be a candidate for the strongside linebacker spot that could get more open if Allen-Williams spends more time on the weakside, the spot Moore left open.
For the moment, Bowen is behind in terms of on-field time, as fellow 2017 freshman Damani Staley became a special teams contributor. But there’s something that flashes with Bowen’s potential, even in a dinged-up redshirt season.
“Once he gets healthy and stuff, he’ll progress a lot more,” Moore said.