Only a few years ago, Jamyest Williams was a steal of a recruit for South Carolina’s football team. The staff snatched him out of Georgia, edging the home state Bulldogs, and had him starting as a true freshman.
And yet, at this point, Williams is playing a lot, but he is not delivering like the staff would like.
The first three weeks of the season have featured a lot of struggles. At times, opponents picked on his size (5-foot-8, 175 pounds). At times, there have been missed tackles. And in one notable moment against Alabama, he lost his feet on a third-down play as the ball was coming toward his man.
During the offseason, Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said the health of Williams and his ability to be a reliable cog in the secondary was vital to South Carolina defense doing what it wanted to do. So what has been the issue?
“I think more than anything ... just consistency in his performance,” Muschamp said. “Whether it’s mental, whatever the case may be, it’s something (where) we really challenged him. Because he’s had some really good plays and some really good flashes of ball and playing extremely well. And then, we just had some some mental mistakes here and there that we got to correct.”
Those flashes were part of the appeal when he started at nickel as a freshman. He had an extremely difficult interception to help turn the Missouri game that year, as well as a late pass break-up. But by the end of that campaign, opponents had started picking on the No. 76 player in the country in his high school class.
He moved to safety last season, was up and down and then got hurt.
This year, Williams has started every game. He has 13 tackles but no pass break-ups. He played all but two snaps against North Carolina, then a modest number of snaps (30) in a blowout FCS win. Against Alabama, he played only 15 of 66 snaps, sixth among the seven defensive backs who saw the field.
That was on a day when USC got torched for 495 yards through the air.
“I always say that the secondary and the offensive line, those are the two areas that you better be communicating, you better be playing at a high level or you’re in for a long day,” Muschamp said. “And that’s not something we’ve played at a high level so far this year. It’s not on him, there’s a lot of guys who need to play better as well.”