Ten years ago, a list like this would have lots of players from which to choose, but that was before redshirting freshman became less and less common in college football. There frankly aren’t many players who the Gamecocks sat out last year, and two players on this list only sat out because of injury. You’ll also notice that the list is heavy on defensive backs, which is no accident because it’s the team’s biggest position of need and the position that was hit hardest last year by injury.
Here’s our list of the five South Carolina players who redshirted last year who could make a big difference in 2018.
Jaylin Dickerson, freshman safety
It doesn’t seem possible Dickerson is only a redshirt freshman. The 6-foot-1, 188-pound North Carolina native arrived two springs ago and immediately impressed head coach Will Muschamp. Dickerson entered fall camp in 2017 looking like he’d play right away. Instead, a shoulder injury complicated by nerve damage suffered in camp has kept him out since. Dickerson even sat out 2018 spring practice but is expected to be back in the fall. If he is fully healthy, he could be in the starting lineup at some point this year.
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Tavyn Jackson, freshman cornerback
Jackson is the cornerback version of Dickerson. The 5-10, 175-pound Florida native quickly caught his coaches’ attention when he arrived for fall practice last year and looked to be on his way to early playing time. Instead, he was felled by a serious hamstring injury. The Gamecocks would love for Dickerson and Jackson to have a year of experience under their belts at this point, but both players still can win significant roles.
Jordon Carty/Jordan Rhodes, freshmen offensive linemen
Yes, these are two separate players, but they both sat out a year ago and both could be vying for the same spot in 2018. Carty is a 6-foot-7, 315-pounder from Florida and Rhodes is a 6-foot-4, 315-pounder from Georgia. There’s not a spot in the starting lineup for either of them barring injuries to veteran linemen, but the Gamecocks need depth up front and at least one these players will have to be ready to step in at any moment this fall.
M.J. Webb, freshman defensive tackle
Traditionally, there would be plenty of redshirt freshmen defensive linemen to choose from, but South Carolina played several first-year linemen last year and may do it again this year. This is a critical fall for Webb, an early enrollee last year. The 6-foot-3, 293-pound Georgia native needs to find a spot in the rotation this year to avoid being jumped in the rotation by younger players like J.J. Enagbare and Tyreek Johnson.
Korey Banks, sophomore defensive back
The only sophomore on the list, Banks played six games at wide receiver as a true freshman in 2016. The Gamecocks then switched him to defensive back and the 5-foot-11, 184-pound Georgia native sat out the entire 2017 season transitioning to the position. Moving to the other side of the ball is normally not an indicator of future success, but Banks drew some praise this spring and South Carolina really needs defensive backs.