Bryson Allen-Williams arrived in Columbia with monumental expectations after choosing South Carolina over Alabama and Georgia.
It has taken him a while to live up to those expectations, but it’s hard to put the blame on Allen-Williams.
The Ellenwood, Ga., native has played four different positions in a year and a half with the Gamecocks. He has seen time at three different linebacker spots and spent the end of last year at defensive end as USC searched for a pass rush. Allen-Williams weighed as much as 250 pounds as a defensive end before dropping down to about 230 pounds this year when he moved back to linebacker.
Playing as a true freshman in the SEC is tough, and Allen-Williams played in 12 games last year. Learning four different positions in less than a year and a half and having to change your weight in the process is nearly impossible.
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“It was tough, especially this year. The game speed changes when you move from d-line to linebacker,” he said. “I had to get comfortable moving back to linebacker. I thought it was going to be easy, but I had to get comfortable playing on the collegiate level again.”
Allen-Williams said he tries to see moving around so much as a positive, but admitted that it has been a challenging process.
“I just take it all in stride. I feel like the coaches believe I’m talented enough to play multiple positions. That’s how I take it,” he said. “I don’t take it as any disrespect. They tell me where I’m going, and I’m going to go there and play it to the best of my ability.”
Allen-Williams may have finally found his home at Mike linebacker. He was backing up T.J. Holloman last week when late in the first half of USC’s win over Vanderbilt, Holloman was flagged for targeting and was ejected from the game.
Allen-Williams came in and recorded three tackles and his first career interception in USC’s 19-10 victory.
“It did feel like a long time coming. I feel like it’s been a minute since I’ve made a play like that,” he said of the interception. “I would probably say since last year or even high school. It just felt good to show myself and show my teammates that if the coaches decide to put me on the field, I can go out there and make a play for the team.”
With Holloman scheduled to return for Carolina’s trip to Texas A&M this week, Allen-Williams practiced with the second team during USC’s bye week.
Still, linebackers coach Kirk Botkin said he was impressed by what Allen-Williams did against the Commodores and added that Allen-Williams could see more playing time in the future.
“He came in and did his job for the most part. He did a really good job. He did a lot of good things,” Botkin said. “There’s still always things to work on, but he had a good game, a good productive game.”
Botkin added that moving Allen-Williams around was done in an effort to try to get him some playing time, but he feels comfortable with Allen-Williams playing at Mike linebacker.
“Just trying to get him on the field and just being a young kid and not understanding totally the defense and some of the other stuff and trying to shuffle him around. Trying to find ways to get him on the field where he can excel,” Botkin said. “But I think he is a linebacker, and I think he’s going to be a really good one in the future.”