Six more days until we see if South Carolina’s young linebackers are ready for their first turn in the spotlight.
When I asked Cedrick Cooper, a sophomore who may not be one of those playing against North Carolina on Thursday because of an elbow injury, if the freshmen linebackers were ready to play, he said, “Oh yeah, absolutely.”
Then he said something else interesting.
“They have coach (Kirk) Botkin,” Cooper said. “They didn’t come here with coach (Ellis) Johnson. They have coach Botkin and coach (Lorenzo) Ward. I feel like they are better teachers.”
I’m not sure that’s entirely true, as I think Ellis Johnson has been, and will continue to be at Auburn, a fabulous defensive coach and teacher. However, if you look closer at Cooper’s point, I think a better way to think of it is this: Botkin and Ward are a good fit for the Gamecocks’ young talent at linebacker.
Botkin, South Carolina’s second-year linebackers coach, played in the NFL as recently as 1997 and still brings a bounce in his step to every practice (and most interviews).
“He has more energy than all of us when we come on the field,” Cooper said. “He’s more animated (than Johnson). He communicates with you rather than just telling you to do something. He can actually show you.”