Josh Kendall

Top five defensive newcomers for South Carolina in 2017

On Wednesday, we talked about the offensive newcomers who probably will play right away for South Carolina this fall. The list was short. Now, it’s time to talk about the defensive newcomers likely to see action, which is a much longer list. In fact, the list is so long that we’re only going to focus on the top five most likely to play this year. Rest assured, there will be more than that, though.

Linebacker Sherrod Greene: The 6-foot-1, 223-pound freshman looks like the fourth linebacker at the moment. With only three players who have collegiate experience at the position, the Gamecocks desperately needed some young players to step up at this position, and Greene has done the best job of it.

Defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw: The 6-foot-6, 326-pound sophomore transferred from Jones Junior College, where he packed on a bunch of pounds. That’s fine with South Carolina coaches, who need a space-eater in the middle of the defensive line, but now Kinlaw has to get himself into playing shape, and quickly.

Defensive line Aaron Sterling: The 6-foot-1, 240-pound freshman has flashed enough athletic ability and enough acumen for pass rush that he’s going to be tough to keep off the field on a team with so little defensive line depth. Sterling isn’t consistent yet, but no true freshman is.

Linebacker Eldridge Thompson: The 6-foot-1, 215-pound junior spent two seasons at Coffeyville Community College and came to South Carolina in part due to the chance to play early. He’s going to get his wish. Thompson looks like the fifth linebacker in the rotation at the moment.

Cornerback Jamyest Williams: The 5-foot-9, 175-pound freshman was the crown jewel of the 2017 signing class and he hasn’t disappointed. Expect to see Williams a lot in the nickel position, and maybe as the starting punt returner too.

Head coach Will Muschamp has said he expects nine newcomers to play a lot on defense this year so the list doesn’t stop with these five. Cornerback Tayvn Jackson, safety Keisean Nixon and defensive lineman Brad Johnson also are in the group.

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