South Carolina freshman offensive lineman Will Putnam has been told there’s a good chance he will redshirt this season.
If that is the case, he plans on making the most of his time in the weight room and on the practice field.
The Harrisburg, N.C., native is aware he needs to get bigger and stronger to play in the SEC, and if he ends up redshirting as expected, he said he’ll work hard to be ready to help the Gamecocks as soon as possible.
“I’m definitely not going to just settle and say, ‘OK, I got redshirted, it’s going to be a long year,’” Putnam said. “No, I’ll make the most out of it. I’ve got to come in ready to compete because if not, then I’m not getting better.”
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Even though Putnam is slated to redshirt his first year in Columbia, he isn’t giving up on earning playing time as a true freshman just yet.
Putnam played tackle in high school, but will move inside at USC and spent a lot of time this spring working on learning the center position because he believes playing there gives him the best opportunity to play early. South Carolina’s preseason depth chart lists Alan Knott as the starting center, being backed up by Cory Helms, who is slated to be the starting right guard.
“My goal is definitely to come in and play a little center, and if I can move into the second string spot and possibly travel with the team and everything like that it would be awesome to have some playing time as a freshman,” Putnam said. “Coach (Shawn) Elliott’s words are if you can beat somebody out, you can take their spot. He’s not opposed to young guys playing, but you have to prove yourself. That’s what I’m going in there with the mentality of.”
Putnam said learning the center position has been tough as there are different responsibilities, not only as far as who to block, but also because as the center you’re in charge of making calls.
“I worked with my high school coach three or four times a week doing different drills, working on snapping and hand placement and stuff like that,” Putnam said. “While he has the high school kids, I go out there and stay afterward.”
Putnam is thrilled to begin playing for the Gamecocks and believes the program is heading in the right direction under new coach Will Muschamp and his staff.
“They have definitely bumped up the recruiting quality of the program,” Putnam said. “There’s a new flame to the program. With the new coaching staff coming in, they have a lot of energy. It’s turned a lot of things around as far as the morale of the team.”