Rick Sandidge opened this football season as South Carolina’s No. 5 defensive tackle.
He was set to play behind three veterans and a fellow freshman in Kingsley Enagbare, who had enrolled in the spring. Sandidge enrolled in the summer, and had to spend fall camp speeding through the learning curve of college football.
So how has he looked to coaches through the first half of his freshman year.
“He’s playing really well,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said on his weekly call-in show. “You look at the last ball game; he came in and, really, he’s making strides every single day.”
The Concord, N.C., product didn’t register any stats against the Aggies, but at moments, he seemed to make an impact. For the season, he has five tackles, one for loss.
The 6-foot-5, 285-pounder was one of the last members of the team’s 2018 recruiting class and one of the key pieces. He was the No. 141 recruit in the country in the 247 Sports composite rankings, one of eight four-star members of the class. He officially picked USC on the February National Signing Day.
He came in at a spot with Javon Kinlaw as an anchor, Kobe Smith as a veteran and part-time end Keir Thomas mostly working inside. Enagbare came in as a bigger end and became a smaller tackle, but it was also a spot where USC needs more production.
Sandidge, a former defensive end, had played more than 10 snaps in the Gamecocks’ two season-opening blowouts, slipped below that mark the next two games and has seen his workload increase the past two weeks.
USC is currently in the midst of an off week, a period when younger players usually get more reps in practice, and coming out of that, the staff is excited about the future of the interior lineman.
“We had a really good young practice for our young players on Tuesday,” Muschamp said. “To really give them a lot of attention and a lot of reps. He continues to improve. He is going to be a really good football player at South Carolina, and I’m glad we’ve got him. He is a wonderful young man, and we’re really excited about our future.”