Josh Kendall

The freshman defensive lineman who quietly had a strong spring

South Carolina defensive lineman Tyreek Johnson pictured here during his high school career.
South Carolina defensive lineman Tyreek Johnson pictured here during his high school career. dmclemore@thestate.com

For South Carolina’s defense and thereby football team to compete against the Alabamas and Georgias of the world, the Gamecocks are going to need more Tyreek Johnsons.

“That’s what we know we have to do here. We have to recruit guys who have frames and then we have to develop them with our nutrition program and the weight room and develop them technique wise,” defensive line coach Lance Thompson said.

That’s what has happened with Johnson, who was a Shrine Bowl selection from Lakewood High School in Sumter in 2016 despite an injury that cost him the end of his senior season in high school. It led to him taking a grayshirt season in 2017, meaning Johnson was expected to be a member of the Gamecocks 2017 signing class but was convinced by the coaches to wait and sign in January as part of the 2018 class.

That’s how the 6-foot-3, 257-pounder slipped into spring practice with hardly any fanfare. And, while fellow freshman defensive lineman Kingsley Enagbare got most of the publicity during the spring, Johnson impressed the coaching staff, too.

“I've been extremely impressed,” coach Will Muschamp said during the spring. "When you talk about practices 1-10, maybe the most improved player on our football team, and I am really excited about his future at South Carolina because here's a guy that sat out all of last fall. He didn't play football."

Despite being a defensive end recruit, Johnson is expected to play mostly defensive tackle for the Gamecocks this season. Freshmen are not allowed by Muschamp to speak to the media.

Recruit Tyreek Johnson ready to finally join South Carolina Gamecocks football

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