In recent seasons, South Carolina football hasn’t exactly been able to play the style of defense Travaris Robinson would prefer.
The secondary has been perpetually strapped in terms of bodies. USC has at most had six reliable players to work with, and in 2018 had to go deep in the depth chart (and sometimes into the offense depth chart) to field enough upright players.
And all that has meant a little less of a crucial attribute.
“To play corner in our system a guy would have to be able to cover man-to-man,” Robinson said. “That’s what we want to do, that’s what we want to be. At times in previous years we weren’t able to do that as much as we wanted.”
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So what might help that? Adding the likes of John Dixon, Cam Smith and Shilo Sanders.
“I think those guys are really good shutdown, man-to-man guys,” Robinson said. “We had all those guys in camp. We moved them around; we’ve seen those guys. So I’m excited about them. And I know people that they know, so that’s big to me.”
None of them are on campus yet, after an off-field issue delayed Smith’s enrollment.
But Robinson does believe they’ll all come in and compete to play.
Smith has good length at 6-foot and was a late riser in the recruiting process. He was one of the better defensive backs at the All-American Bowl. Dixon missed parts of his career with injuries, but his performance at camp was off the charts according to head coach Will Muschamp, who added missing time might have kept him off other teams’ radars.
Sanders has only two years of football under his belt, but he has the bloodlines as the son of a Hall of Famer.
The other defensive back recruit likely won’t end up as an outside corner, instead being destined for safety or nickel. But Robinson had a snappy answer when asked why he liked Jammie Robinson.
“I like all good players,” Travaris Robinson said.
Jammie Robinson came in listed at 6-foot, 193 pounds and is coming off a dominant senior season for a 15-0 team. His new coach said he can run and hit, but there was a moment early in the process when he showed something beyond the physical skills.
“It’s funny, when he came to camp, we do the county fair at camp.” Travaris Robinson said. “You can see some of the five-star, four-star guys kind of shy away from that stuff. Jammie jumped right in there. He was first person in the line at every drill, and there’s just some things we watch. We look for characteristics that we like: guys that are going to have the work ethic, guys that aren’t going to be prima donnas, guys that will come in and compete.”
Jammie Robinson had that in spades, but he too will have to wait to enroll.
At the moment, the Gamecocks are shorthanded in the secondary, with only eight scholarship defensive backs, some of whom are limited by injury.
The staff would like to keep Israel Mukuamu and Jaycee Horn outside as primary corners, and have the freshmen compete for work behind them. But if those players prove to be as “shutdown” as their coach hopes, it could mean more flexibility across that group.