Josh Kendall

Why South Carolina freshman corner is impressing: ‘Long, tall, got wingspan’

There are a lot of new faces in South Carolina’s defensive backfield. One has stood out above all the rest so far.

“Israel,” senior cornerback Keisean Nixon said.

That’s early enrollee freshman Israel Mukuamu, a three-star prospect who the Gamecocks lured away from a verbal commitment to Florida State.

“He’s long, tall, got wingspan,” Nixon said. “He’s got a lot to learn, but’s good to make mistakes now so he can learn from them before camp.”

The 6-foot-4, 186-pounder has the longest wingspan of any of the defensive backs on the team, Nixon said. It is that length that first caught the eye of senior cornerback Rashad Fenton.

“Yeah, he has it,” Fenton said.

The South Carolina coaches identified Mukuamu in the offseason program as a player who would get a shot at cornerback right away.

“We always talk about being a big, fast football team, and he gives you a lot of length,” defensive coordinator Travaris 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.”