Seniors Rashad Fenton and Keisean Nixon are South Carolina’s starting cornerbacks at the moment, and after that the Gamecocks have plenty of questions.
“I don’t have a pecking order, but right now Keisean and Rashad are playing really good,” defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson said Friday after the team finished its second practice of the spring.
The next man in line at the moment could be early enrollee freshman Israel Mukuamu, a 6-foot-4 Louisiana product.
“I am really excited about Israel,” Robinson said. “He’s doing a really good job for being a young player coming in. He’s making some plays coming in. He’s giving up some plays as well. That’s just a part of playing that position and learning.”
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Mukuamu is a three-star prospect who was one point was committed to Florida State. He enrolled in school in January and will go through spring practice with the Gamecocks.
“We always talk about being a big, fast football team, and he gives you a lot of length,” Robinson said. “He’s exactly what we want to be because we want to be a bump-and-run team outside and you look at his wingspan, and it’s hard to get around a guy like that. Being big though comes with some issues as well. Can you bend like the little guys? Can you run like the little guys? Those are some things he’s got to be sound on with his technique. He needs to continue to get better and he will.”
Converted wide receiver Korey Banks, a sophomore, also is getting into the spring rotation while South Carolina waits for sophomore Jamyest Williams (shoulder) to get healthy and four-star freshman Jaycee Horn to arrive this summer.
Williams started at nickel last year for the Gamecocks but could play anywhere in the defensive backfield next year, Robinson said. He will miss all of spring practice but is expected to be fully healthy in the fall.
“Right now, we haven’t made a decision on that yet, but he obviously played nickel for us,” Robinson said. “Jamyest is a guy who can play some safety for us as well and he also can play outside so he gives you a lot of different positions he can play.”
As far as being “a bump-and-run” team that plays a lot of man coverage, Robinson said the Gamecocks defensive backs still need to prove they can do that proficiently.
“You have to pick your spots,” he said. “Obviously, down and distance is a great indicator. We are going to do whatever we have to do to win. Yes, we want to be a bump and run football team. Do we want to play middle of the field coverage all the time? Absolutely not. We don’t want them to know what we’re doing. We do know when we need to bump, we need to be able to do it and do really well.”