Everything that has happened so far in South Carolina’s preparations for the 2015 season suggests the Gamecocks will be rotating their top two running backs most of the season.
Everything in David Williams’ body is hoping that’s not true. Williams, a sophomore from Philadelphia, wants to be South Carolina’s undisputed starting tailback, and he’s not shy about saying that.
“It’s very important to me,” Williams said. “That what was pushing me all winter and summer.”
It’s what Williams was expected to eventually be when he was recruited out of Imhotep Charter as a four-star prospect who had offers from Ohio State, Arizona State, Tennessee, Auburn, Arizona and Miami among others. Williams frankly expected it to happen earlier and considered transferring when he was redshirted as a freshman in 2013.
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“The toughest part was not being able to get in as much and show what I can do,” he said. “At the end of the day, my mom told me to make it into a positive.”
Last season, Williams had 45 carries for 256 yards while playing behind Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds. He was named South Carolina’s most improved running back in the spring but still entered the preseason behind Wilds, a fifth-year senior with 1,277 career rushing yards.
“I just feel like I got better overall as a player (in the offseason),” Williams said. “I am more confident out there running. I just got bigger and stronger. I am ready to go.”
He also got more familiar with the team’s pass protection schemes, which will help him get on the field more this year, running backs coach Everette Sands said.
“It’s more of a learning curve for him, as far as, ‘Hey, this guy right here definitely knows the ins and outs of what we do in pass protection,’” Sands said. “He’s much more comfortable with that now, so right now him getting on the field is all on him, and it’s a battle.”
Sands expects Williams and Wilds to compete for the starting job throughout the season and probably swap it back and forth a few times. Wilds has started 11 games in his career, while Williams has played in nine with no starts.
Williams “is about 220, he’s running well. He’s physical, as he needs to be, both on the blocking side and the running side. He’s doing what I want him to do,” Sands said. “Both of them are really good backs, and I don’t think we’re going to say, ‘This guy is going to be the starter, and that’s that.’ It’s going to be a week-to-week basis. Which guy is producing more, which guy is doing this correctly, etc, etc.”
Williams, whose best career game was an 11-carry, 110-yard effort against Furman last year, believes that will be him. He wants to remind South Carolina fans why they were so excited when he signed with the Gamecocks two years ago.
“I have been waiting to surprise people,” he said. “They don’t know what they have in store.”
On the run
Rushing stats from last season for returning USC players: