One of the many keywords for South Carolina this season is “growth.” With nearly half the roster freshmen or redshirt freshmen, the Gamecocks are looking for improvement game-by-game, leading to season-by-season.
Junior cornerback Jamarcus King is lumped with it. Despite being older than much of the team, he’s as new as any of the freshmen after two years of junior college. He didn’t get a head start in spring ball, either, when his planned January enrollment was delayed until June.
He didn’t start the season-opener, but the Gamecocks were down a man when Rico McWilliams left the team three days before the game. Whether he knew the playbook back to front or only knew a few base packages, USC needed King to play. Instinct would have to do.
It did well.
King played 30 snaps against Vanderbilt and had three tackles, one for loss, and a pass breakup. The PBU was opportunistic – the Gamecocks finally dented the scoreboard midway through the third quarter but still trailed 10-3. A Commodores score would wipe out a lot of momentum.
Kyle Shurmur saw Kalija Lipscomb get a one-on-one matchup with King heading to the middle of the field and let the ball fly. King rose with Lipscomb, coming over his back to tap the ball away.
A flag was thrown, then hurriedly picked up as the rest of the officiating crew pointed out that King played textbook pass defense. No impeding of the receiver to the ball, contact was allowed.
“He made a couple of big plays out there with the pass breakup, and he’s just becoming more physical and doing a great job,” linebacker T.J. Holloman said. “He’s a quick learner.”
King will challenge for a starting spot this week as USC expects a more open offense at Mississippi State. It’s likely the Gamecocks will need a quick, athletic corner who can roam midfield to sideline to take away any potential receivers in space.
King, who played a season with Steven Montac in JUCO, spoke before the season about USC’s family atmosphere and his learning curve. “Everybody took me in like family, and I try to take (other new players) in like they took me in,” he said.
King is anxious to give his team what it couldn’t get in Week 1.
Vanderbilt fumbled once but recovered. The Commodores misfired on 15 passes but none of them ended up cradled by a Gamecock.
“Turnovers are the key to winning games,” King said. “We have to cause those.”
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