Josh Kendall

Can T.J. Brunson get 100 tackles? ‘I’m sure I’ll eclipse that’

T.J. Brunson set to lead USC’s defense with his position and personality

South Carolina football linebacker T.J. Brunson and coach Mike Peterson talk about how the junior will lead the Gamecocks defense in 2018, partially because of his quiet example, partially because of his role at middle linebacker.
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South Carolina football linebacker T.J. Brunson and coach Mike Peterson talk about how the junior will lead the Gamecocks defense in 2018, partially because of his quiet example, partially because of his role at middle linebacker.

Only once in the past 11 seasons has a South Carolina football player recorded more than 100 tackles in a season. Gamecocks linebacker T.J. Brunson is pretty confident it will happen again this year.

“I’m sure I’ll eclipse that this year,” the junior from Columbia said.

Brunson had 88 tackles a year ago, five stops behind team leader Skai Moore. With Moore out of the lineup and South Carolina’s defense built around Brunson, he will have a shot at a big tackle number this season, but he isn’t interested in discussing what his final number might be.

“I just go out and try to play as hard as I can,” he said.

Moore had 111 tackles in 2015. Before that, Jasper Brinkley was the last Gamecocks with triple-digit stops. Brinkley had 107 tackles in 2006. The USC record for tackles in a season belongs to Mike Durrah, who had 179 in 1983, but tackle statistics have fallen across the board in recent years. Every team leader at South Carolina from 1971 through 1991 was credited with more than 100 tackles.

Brunson has 100 career tackles. The school’s career record belongs to J.D. Fuller, who had 405 stops in 1979 and 1981-83. Brunson doesn’t have a realistic shot at that number, but he’s still expected to have a big season for the Gamecocks.

“He’s played really good football for us and has the right kind of demeanor and talent that I want at middle linebacker, a guy that’s extremely bright, smart, positively affects the guys around him,” coach Will Muschamp said. “I’m expecting a big year from him.”

South Carolina football practices Thursday, Aug. 16 in preparation for the 2018 season.

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