Bryan Edwards was in a somewhat similar spot a season ago.
The wide receiver had joined South Carolina in the spring instead of summer, but he was still a true freshman, among the highest rated in the class and pegged as a candidate for early playing time.
Cornerback Jamyest Williams is in a similar boat this year. But don’t expect the second-year Edwards to take it easy on the new guy.
“I got the young buck a couple of times,” Edwards said. “He’s a little guy, so we are going to go deep on him.”
Williams is the 5-foot-9, four-star athlete who came out of Georgia powerhouse Grayson High and has a high ceiling in terms of speed and burst. He’s started August camp working as a corner and nickel, and the latter position projects as the one where he could make the most impact in the near term.
Although Edwards talked about getting the best of Williams, and boasts an five-inch height advantage, he came away from the matchup with a level of respect.
“Jamyest is a competitive dude,” Edwards said. “He’s smart, and he’s real hungry. He’s gonna be a great player here.”
Last year’s Gamecocks showed a particular aptitude for preventing big plays and making opposing teams work down the field. That said, they didn’t do a great job of keeping the short plays short or getting opponents off the field on third down.
The roots of that were diverse: not enough strong tackling, some technique issues, defensive backs who were stretched thin and often shifting players around. In going against that group, Edwards saw some guys bringing something more.
“Guys like J(amarcus) King, Chris Lammons, they’re getting better in coverage,” Edwards said. “They’re tougher. They’re bigger, stronger, faster. I think our defense is going to be really good this year.”