In 2016, the first year Will Muschamp coached at South Carolina, Bryson Allen-Williams played in 13 games and registered 75 tackles, and his star seemed to be on the rise. After being forced to play out of position often during his first two seasons, Allen-Williams looked like he’d found his stride as a junior and was bound for a breakout senior season in 2017.
Instead, he’s played in only 11 games and totaled 46 tackles in the last two years due to injury, and it looked like that might be the end of the story when he hurt an ankle and left the Nov. 3 Ole Miss game. After missing the last four games, however, Allen-Williams is expected to play in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 29 against Virginia.
“I didn’t finish on my terms,” Allen-Williams said. “I wanted to finish on my terms, finish on a high note. I’ve been through a lot, coaching changes, scheme changes, position changes. I wanted to go out there and end it on my note. I am excited and ready to be back.”
Allen-Williams was one of the nation’s top linebacker recruits when he signed with Steve Spurrier’s staff in 2014, and he started the first game of his collegiate career. He has gone on to start 21 games, play in 48 and total 171 tackles and 6.5 sacks, but it’s been a career of stops and starts due to litany of injuries.
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“Things didn’t go the way I thought they were going to go, but I felt like I was blessed to play at one of the best schools and the greatest conference in the world,” Allen-Williams said. “I was able to make a lot of plays here and play a lot of positions. This school and this community definitely prepared me for life outside of Carolina. I’m definitely glad I came.”
Allen-Williams worried when he suffered his most recent injury that, “This was the end of the world,” he said, but he quickly set his sights on getting back on the field one final time.
“I knew what my goal was. I knew how I was going to attack it,” he said. “I trusted our trainers and what they wanted to do, and I attacked it. This is my life, this is what I want to do.”
Allen-Williams will begin NFL Draft preparations as soon as the Belk Bowl is finished.
“Bryson is a great guy,” senior quarterback Michael Scarnecchia said. “I think he has a really good mentality. These injuries, they hurt him mentally, but he always comes with a positive attitude. That’s the biggest thing, when you come to the stadium, you can have the choice to have a negative attitude or a positive attitude. He always has a positive attitude, and it’s infectious to everybody. I think that’s what kept him going.”
Belk Bowl info
Who: South Carolina (7-5) vs. Virginia (7-5)
Where: Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina
When: Noon Dec. 29