Josh Kendall

Early returns: Jamyest Williams has talent to be great

As a first-year freshman on South Carolina’s football team, Jamyest Williams can’t speak publicly for himself, but his teammates and coaches have good things to say after one week.

“I’m excited about him,” Gamecocks defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson said after the team’s held its fourth fall practice Thursday. “He’s got the skill set that we always knew he had. He competes like we knew he would, so we’re excited about him.”

Williams was the highest-rated player in South Carolina’s 2017 recruiting class, a four-star defensive back who was considered the nation’s eighth-best cornerback by 247Sports.com’s composite ranking system. He had scholarship offers from basically everyone in the SEC and all the way out to Oklahoma and Oregon but chose the Gamecocks because of his relationship with Robinson and head coach Will Muschamp and the likelihood of early playing time in a secondary looking for a star.

It’s too early, Robinson said, to talk about whether Williams or any of the team’s freshmen will play this year, but it seems almost certain that Williams will be on the field in some capacity. He is practicing at nickel back and cornerback and also could contribute on kick returns.

“We are playing him at multiple spots right now, really haven’t saturated him at one spot,” Robinson said. “We will saturate him a little more as we put on the pads and primarily play him at the nickel. That will broaden his world a little. He’s a really good, talented player.”

Williams is barred by Muschamp from speaking to the media, as are all of the team’s first-year freshmen.

“Everything he does is precise,” sophomore linebacker Antoine Wilder said. “He’s going to make a few mistakes, he’s a freshman, but he’s going to be a great player for us. I’m glad to have him here. He wants to be great at everything he does. His technique, he makes sure is down perfect. Everything he does, he wants to be perfect.”

Williams told The State before enrolling at South Carolina that he expects to “go in there and perform at the highest level possible.”

“My expectation is to perform at nickel and at punt return and at kick return and wherever they need me to play and just be explosive and do whatever I can to help the team,” he said.

Despite the public fanfare, Williams has been reserved thus far at South Carolina, junior cornerback Rashad Fenton said.

“He’s humble,” Fenton said. “He’s getting a lot of reps. Great agility, everyone notices it, but in SEC ball everyone has talent so he still has to come along and be a great player.”

South Carolina’s coaches discussed Williams taking a few snaps on offense during the recruiting process, but no one has brought it up since he arrived on campus, according to Robinson and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper.

“If they do that, I’ll take (wide receiver Shi Smith) on defense,” Robinson said. “I’m sure they won’t agree with that.”

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