South Carolina linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams has seen a full range of situations in his time with Gamecocks football.
He was a freshman on the final of three 11-win teams in a row, saw the Steve Spurrier era become the short-lived Shawn Elliott era and give way to coach Will Muschamp. He was a rising junior as the team started its rebuild in 2016.
He’s gone one more year in Columbia because of a shoulder injury that forced a medical redshirt last season. And as he looked at the current team and looked back, something popped out to him.
“The team speed of our team is just crazy,” Allen-Williams said. “Coach Muschamp, he made an emphasis on that. I was talking to some of the older guys that actually left this year, just looking at our spring roster from two years ago compared to now, it’s just night and day. Just seeing the team speed we have, how physical we are at the point of attack.”
Allen-Williams is one of only six defensive players still on the team from that spring. One was early enrollee Keir Thomas, who is in line to start at somewhere on the defensive line.
Muschamp has steadily added to the roster with top-20 level recruiting classes, and the team got a boost this year with 13 early enrollees, including four-star linebacker Rosendo Louis. The team took a step forward last season in terms of that physicality, going from a sub-standard run defense to one ranked in the top 40.
It’s a team with enough depth of talented linebackers Allen-Williams has been able to stay at Buck/strongside linebacker this spring, rather than shift to the weakside to fill in for the departed Skai Moore. A pair of key names there are Sherrod Green, who got starts as a true freshman, and Eldridge Thompson, a junior college transfer who offers a plus option in pass coverage.
Both have been part of upgrading the team speed and creating the change Allen-Williams has seen.
“Sherrod is probably one the fastest linebackers we’ve got on the team,” Allen-Williams said. “Eldridge is one of the fastest linebackers we’ve got on the team. Both of them are real instinctive. That’s going to help us out a lot.”