Will Muschamp on the growth and potential of USC’s young defensive backs
South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp scoffs at the idea of depth charts.
That said, he named one starter, one potential starter and hinted at another lineup choice as he spoke at the Columbia Touchdown Club on Thursday. He said:
▪ Second-year linebacker Ernest Jones will start in the middle, with T.J Brunson moving to the weakside spot. Brunson played there as a freshman.
“Really pleased with those two guys and how they communicate,” Muschamp said.
▪ He expects true freshman Jammie Robinson will start at the nickel spot. Robinson has drawn strong reviews all camp after enrolling for the summer.
“A guy we’re excited for,” Muschamp said. “He’s done some really good things.”
▪ Although he didn’t get specific, Muschamp said Bryan Edwards, Shi Smith and Josh Vann had separated themselves as far as the wide receiver spot. Smith and Edwards had been returning starters, while OrTre Smith spent much of the offseason projected as the third guy after starting 10 games in 2017.
“We’re deeper at wideout than we’ve ever been,” Muschamp said. “Three guys have really jumped out at us at camp, Bryan Edwards, Shi Smith and Josh Vann. Shi has been a very difficult guy to cover. We played him outside we played him in the slot.
“Those three guys really distanced themselves at the receiver position.”
Before the meeting, Muschamp also said the tight end position has been stabilized despite the loss of Kiel Pollard. They expect Evan Hinson back soon after surgery, and Kyle Markway has shown well. Freshman KeShawn Toney drew praise, as did former offensive lineman Chandler Ferrell, who moved over this spring.
Muschamp wanted to make it clear: Although redshirt freshman Dakereon Joyner has lost the backup quarterback battle to Ryan Hilinski, Joyner will still be a quarterback.
And a little more.
“Ryan is repping for our second group. Dakereon is continuing to rep at the quarterback position,” Muschamp said Thursday. “This is something we needed to narrow down the reps for someone. Ryan ended up getting those reps. But Dakereon is still playing quarterback. He’s also going to help our team in some other roles. We’ll see as those roles continue to evolve going forward.”
There had been some buzz that his speed and skill could be valuable at another position. He was a dynamic player in high school, rushing for 980 yards or more three years in a row.
Joyner came out and spoke positively on social media after the decision, but Muschamp said it still wasn’t easy.
“It’s hard, at the end of the day,” Muschamp said. “Those meetings are never easy and are difficult on him. But he’s handled everything with absolutely first class.
“He’s going to be tremendously successful at South Carolina.”
Muschamp deflected any question Joyner might find himself working in on defense.