Josh Kendall

USC’s King wants to come back better, bigger after tough night

DJ Smith: USC has faith in Jamarcus King

South Carolina safety DJ Smith speaks on cornerback teammate Jamarcus King's struggles.
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South Carolina safety DJ Smith speaks on cornerback teammate Jamarcus King's struggles.

Jamarcus King learned two things on Nov. 26 when South Carolina faced Clemson.

No. 1, Mike Williams is really, really good.

No. 2, Jamarcus King has to get a lot stronger.

“I dwell on it, but it’s not going to hold me back,” King said of the game in which Williams caught six passes for 100 yards. “He was very good attacking the ball.”

Williams caught passes over King on multiple occasions and on one play carried him 5 yards into the end zone for one of his three touchdowns. Williams is expected to be a first-round NFL Draft pick in the spring. King will return to the Gamecocks, he hopes, as an improved player and lockdown cornerback.

“It’s football, and he was playing against a real good player,” South Carolina safety D.J. Smith said. “It happens to the best of us. If you play DB, you've been burned before. If you haven't, then you're the best. Jamarcus knows he's a good player, and he knows we have faith in him.”

Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp, who was a college safety and is one of the team’s defensive backs coaches, had a succinct message for King after the game.

“Just lift,” King said.

“You go against the bigger receivers, and you can’t get banged around,” Muschamp said. “He’s got to continue to increase his physical stature. That’s something that’s been said to him since day one. Sometimes, it takes a tough night to teach somebody.”

King played this season around 180 pounds. He would like to be between 190 and 195 next year, he said.

“I have to lift; I have to get bigger. That’s it,” King said. “I was pretty much there every time, (Williams) just made the catch. I have to get stronger.”

The 6-foot-2 King was tied for the team lead in interceptions this year with three and also finished the regular season sixth on the team in tackles with 53. His 48 solo tackles were the second-highest number on the team and his nine pass breakups led the team.

“We have the utmost respect for and confidence in Jamarcus,” linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams said. “He has made plays all year. Everybody has a bad game. We as a defense had a bad game against Clemson.”

King, who will play in his home state of Alabama when the Gamecocks (6-6) take on South Florida (10-2) in the Birmingham Bowl, started 10 games at cornerback for South Carolina this season after transferring from Coffeyville Community College. Muschamp believes the Gamecocks’ bowl practices will be important for King, who only made the switch from wide receiver to defensive back at junior college last season.

“He’s got really good instincts, and I think that’s something we saw in the recruiting process,” Muschamp said. “He’s very green in some areas. He’s going to continue to get better with some more reps.”

That and stronger is what the Gamecocks need King to be in 2017.

Birmingham Bowl

Who: South Carolina (6-6) vs. South Florida (10-2)

When: 2 p.m., Dec. 29

Where: Legion Field, Birmingham, Ala.

TV: ESPN

Line: USF by 10 1/2

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