South Carolina defensive tackle M.J. Webb got the chance to start his USC career early when he joined the team for bowl practice in late 2016.
It didn’t mean he got the chance to play early, or even at all in his true freshman season. And he was OK with it.
“I feel like I wasn’t ready, honestly,” Webb said. “Just because I didn’t know the techniques and all, and the game was a whole lot faster. You just have to get everything under your belt, and once you have everything under your belt, it will be all good.”
Webb knew redshirting was a possibility when he came to campus as a four-star defensive lineman out of Madison, Ga. He was a big defensive end destined to play tackle, and he embraced the year of work and development.
That’s not always something players move toward easily.
“Some guys are going to be a little bit depressed when they find out they get redshirted,” Webb said. “And I mean (I was) a little bit because you’re always used to playing in the football season, but then once you get to college, you never know.
“I’ll have a whole extra year to play, a fifth year to play. I was excited about that.”
He’s reshaped his body, and is going through spring at 290, lighter by 10 pounds than he was during the season.
He credited the older players and coaches for helping him though the start of his career. His approach was to take advice and leadership whenever it came, listen to everyone he could.
His focus has been the finer points of the game, adapting to a new level and the technique needed, and those around him helped bring him a long way.
“It was pretty hard for me coming in,” Webb said. “Even though I came in early, it was pretty hard for me, it still took me a good bit of time to learn how to get all the techniques down and everything.”