The Gamecocks lose one starter, Jamarcus King, and return a key anchor at cornerback. The questions are, how much do two less-used reserves step up, how much can a towering freshman chip in and how are snaps distributed between the three spots?
Rashad Fenton, senior, 5-foot-10, 184 pounds – He spent about half the season as one of the best corners in the SEC, but things tailed off a bit. He’s still a big piece to have anchoring the secondary as three other starters graduated. He broke up eight passes with one interception and 48 tackles.
Jamyest Williams, sophomore, 5-foot-7, 175 pounds – The former top-100 prospect showed enough potential and competitive fire to earn a starting spot at nickel in a thin secondary. He had moments where he flashed, but also had some rough plays that earned the ire of the coaching staff. That said, he’ll be able to take the experience of starting and work off that.
Top Reserves/Potential starters
Keisean Nixon, senior, 5-foot-10, 193 pounds – He never truly caught up in the regular season after arriving late. Once he got to bowl prep and got his feet under him, he came out looking like a reliable part of the defense. The staff is high on his toughness and potential, and USC needs someone to line up across from Fenton.
Tavyn Jackson, freshman, 5-foot-10, 174 – Injuries never allowed him a chance to make an impact or even get on the field last season. That said, he came into his college career with a reputation for man coverage, and he showed enough that USC’s staff lamented how he wasn’t available as a true freshman.
Korey Banks, sophomore, 5-foot-11, 187 – A former wide receiver who has yet to contribute on the other side of the ball.
Freshman in for spring
Israel Mukuamu, 6-foot-4, 186 pounds – His future might end up being at safety, but in the short term, Will Muschamp said, he’s got the feet to play corner despite his tall stature. If that proves to be the case, he’d be an intriguing piece going forward.