South Carolina football’s season is set to take an unusual hit as the Gamecocks are set to lose a key member of their secondary.
South Carolina confirmed defensive back Jamyest Williams entered the transfer portal Tuesday morning. That means he will sit out the rest of the season. The former four-star recruit and highest-rated member of the 2017 USC signing class started three games this season.
The Big Spur reported the news first on Monday night.
“He just wants another opportunity, wants a better ... another situation,” USC coach Will Muschamp said of the junior defensive back. “So we support him 100%, loved coaching Jam, and we’re moving forward.”
Williams on Tuesday night shared a message of thanks to his Twitter page.
“Want to say the the last couple years at South Carolina have been great to me through ups and downs putting team before self,” Williams shared on Twitter. “I gave the Gamecocks nation my all. I wanna thank Coach Muschamp and Coach Trob for all my opportunities and wish them and the players nothing but success in the future. But sometimes change is needed for a person to obtain goals in life for a future that is uncertain therefore have decided to put my name in the College Football Transfer Portal.”
He picked USC ahead of Georgia and Oklahoma as part of Carolina’s 2017 signing class. He is from Loganville, Georgia.
Williams has only played four games this season, starting three. That means by leaving the team now, he can still preserve a redshirt. That would give him two seasons at a lower level school or one at a FBS school after sitting out next season — that’s unless he were to leave as a graduate transfer, which would allow him to play right away no matter his destination.
Williams came to Columbia as one of the first big recruits under Muschamp. He was the No. 76 player in the country in his class and the top rated player in Muschamp’s first full class.
Williams started as a true freshman at nickel, having bright moments and some struggles en route to earning SEC All-Freshman honors. He moved to safety as a sophomore, was again up and down and saw his season end early with a shoulder injury.
This season, he has 16 tackles, fifth on the team, and had some moments where he was picked on in coverage.
Before last season, one of his high school coaches, Jeff Herron, said he felt Williams could be a better fit if he wasn’t playing defense.
“I felt like he might contribute more on special teams and offense,” Herron said. “It’s tough for someone his size to play corner in the SEC. I don’t care who you are. It’s just hard to do. So him moving to safety or moving to offense, I think, will be good for him and them.”
The departure would leave South Carolina’s beleaguered secondary even thinner. Beyond him, the Gamecocks have only five non-freshman defensive backs, including Jamel Cook, who has played sparingly.
The rotation this season has consisted of Williams, RJ Roderick, Israel Mukuamu, Jaycee Horn, J.T. Ibe and freshmen Jammie Robinson and John Dixon. The only other healthy scholarship DBs beyond them are freshmen Cam Smith and Shilo Sanders.
Of the five defensive backs in that 2017 class, Jaylin Dickerson is the only one set to be on the roster after Williams leaves, and Dickerson is sidelined for the year after surgery. Tavyn Jackson, Zay Brown and Kaleb Chalmers all transferred or took a medical redshirt.
As he leaves the team, there were no ill feelings stated publicly.
“I plan on talking to him,” linebacker Ernest Jones said. “To see where see his head’s at, and just how he’s doing personally, because he’s still he’s still a friend of ours. And he made a decision for himself to better himself.”
No one else has expressed a desire to transfer, Muschamp said. Players leaving around the four-game mark is becoming more common because of the NCAA’s relatively new redshirt rule that allows student-athletes to play in up to four games and still take a redshirt season.
Kelly Bryant took this path last season after losing a starting job at Clemson. Earlier Monday, a pair of Houston players, including quarterback D’Eriq King, announced they’d sit out the rest of the year and return to Houston next year.
Who: Kentucky at South Carolina
When: 7:30 pm Saturday, Sept. 28
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia
TV: SEC Network
Line: South Carolina by 3