USC Gamecocks Football

In some ways a forgotten man on Gamecock line, coaches are excited about his skills

He’s not a player that gets brought up too much when talking South Carolina’s defensive line.

He didn’t step on the field last season. He’s not a shiny new freshman. In fact, he finished up high school two years ago.

But before the knee injury that cost him the 2018 season, or the shoulder injury that delayed his enrollment, Tyreek Johnson was a productive prospect and had some big potential.

Even while not playing, he’s showed the USC staff a little something.

“We were really excited about him,” Will Muschamp said this spring. “Unfortunately in a non-contact situation with the ACL, but he’s rehabbed extremely well off of it. He’s got his weight back up. He’s about up to 260, 265, 270 range. We are really excited about him.”

That ACL tore early in spring practice of 2018. It kept him out all season, and the hangover from it limited him early in this year’s spring ball.

At that size, the athletic Sumter product will stay at defensive tackle, where he moved soon after enrolling. He finished high school in 2017, following a season in which he posted 72 tackles, 22 for loss, with five sacks and six blocked kicks.

After high school, a shoulder ailment forced a grayshirt, and the setback with his knee came only a few months after he arrived. He spent the 2017 fall semester at home, working out and staying big.

When he returns to full action, he’ll have to contend with a rather loaded position group. USC has back its top four tackles from last year: Javon Kinlaw, Kobe Smith, Rick Sandidge and Keir Thomas (who sometimes plays end).

The team also added five-star tackle Zacch Pickens and has junior college addition Devontae Davis and redshirt Jabari Ellis, who can play there as well.

The coaches have praised the depth they finally have, and at the moment, it’s not clear where Johnson fits in. But he boasts some skills they think they can use.

“He’s a heavy-handed guy, can hold the point (of attack),” Muschamp said. “Very athletic. A guy we’re really excited about.”