Josh Kendall

Newcomers emerging on Gamecocks defense, Muschamp says

The first-year players who are going to contribute on South Carolina’s defense this fall are beginning to make themselves known, head coach Will Muschamp said in a Thursday morning radio interview.

“We are going to have nine guys that are new faces who are going to be contribute, some in a major way, to our defense,” Muschamp told the school’s flagship station, 107.5 The Game. “That’s nine guys I really don’t know how they are going to respond in front of 80,000 people in Charlotte (in the season-opener against N.C. State). We have to be careful about what we ask them to do.”

Defensive linemen Javon Kinlaw and Aaron Sterling, Buck Brad Johnson, linebackers Sherrod Greene and Eldridge Thompson, defensive backs Keisean Nixon, Tayvn Jackson and Jam Williams also have impressed Muschamp, he said. Kinlaw, Nixon and Thompson are junior college transfers new to the Gamecocks, while the rest of those players are true freshmen.

“The ability is there,” Muschamp said. “It’s just the experience factor.”

Young defensive linemen Kobe Smith and Keir Thomas also have had a good camp, Muschamp said.

Overall, Muschamp spoke highly of his team’s approach to its preseason camp. The Gamecocks had a day off Wednesday and will hold their 10th practice of the season Thursday afternoon.

“For the most part, we have embraced the grind, we have embraced camp. That has been exciting to me,” he said. “The culture of the program continues to move in a positive direction.”