With a new coaching staff in place at South Carolina, the Gamecocks’ defense will feature a Buck position that’s a hybrid of a linebacker and defensive end. Freshman Griffin Gentry of Birmingham said the role fits him perfectly.
Gentry believes he’s strong and explosive enough to cause problems as a pass rusher, but also quick enough to cover running backs and wide receivers in space.
“In high school, my coach would always put me on the wide side of the field so I could cover that whole area. I did pretty well with that with the running backs and other skill players,” he said. “This is the SEC, so all of the players are much faster than I am used to, but I think I can get accustomed to that.”
In addition to Buck, Gentry also has his eyes on earning playing time at strongside defensive end. He said the coaching staff plans to give him a shot at both positions.
Gentry said he excels in chasing down plays from behind.
“You don’t see many defensive lineman chasing plays 30 or 40 yards down field. I think that’s a big plus for me. I think I would be a good Buck linebacker and also strongside defensive end,” he said. “I just want to make an impact this year. I know that this is a team that’s very young and needs a lot of help, especially on the defensive line. I plan on being one of the people that’s a big help for the Gamecocks.”
Gentry worked out this springbefore coming to Columbia in May.
“I did a lot of running and worked hard on my conditioning, along with the weights part,” he said. “I also had to get myself mentally prepared for what’s to come, studying my plays and getting accustomed to those. I just tried to prepare myself physically and mentally for what’s to come.”
While expectations are down after a 3-9 season, Gentry said the Gamecocks have the ability to surprise some people and get the program headed back in the right direction.
“I really think we have a good chance of making it to a bowl game,” Gentry said. “Being in the East, I think there are a lot of teams out there that are in the same process as we are, but I think we’re a little bit more ahead than them.”