A year ago, Marquavius Lewis was just getting his feet wet on the Division I level. The junior college transfer joined South Carolina’s football team in time for spring ball, en route to a season in which he started every game.
This spring, he’ll go through practice actually having taken snaps in an SEC game.
“It’s a difference because I have a lot of experience now,” Lewis said. “I worked hard when I first got here and that led to me starting. Like they say, no spot is guaranteed, so I’m going to continue to work hard.”
Lewis’ first year was a mixed bag. He secured that starting spot by the end of the spring and registered 45 tackles to lead all linemen. But the burly Greenwood native didn’t deliver many big plays with a modest 4 1/2 tackles for loss and three sacks, after coming in rated as the best junior college prospect in the nation.
South Carolina improved what had been a dismal pass rush, but it still was well below average on a national scale.
6 Gamecocks who started every game in 2015. Marquavius Lewis was one of them.
The new spring brings with it a new coach with a different outlook for the defense. Thus far for Lewis, not much has changed.
“It’s not much different, same keys,” Lewis said. “It’s just minor things that may be different.”
He said he’s still lining up more often at the right defensive end spot, where he was last year. Traditionally, stronger linemen with his build (270 muscular pounds) often line up on the other side, but Will Muschamp often starts his versatile Buck hybrid players on the left, though they can move around.
Lewis is playing ahead of true freshman early enrollee Keir Thomas, a promising young player who was initially projected as more of a Buck. Thomas was with the second nickel defense in an open portion of an early practice.
With a year under his belt, Lewis is now something different. Once a touted newcomer, he’s become a returning starter, and the designation provided lessons in how to be on the field.
“Giving it, every play, everything I’ve got and knowing my keys and knowing what other players are doing,” Lewis said. “Just being more football-minded.”