The Daily Gamecock

Sharrod Golightly and Jordan Diggs fight for starting spot

	<p>Redshirt freshman Jordan Diggs (42) is still in the hunt to take over the spur position.</p>
Redshirt freshman Jordan Diggs (42) is still in the hunt to take over the spur position.

Jadaveon Clowney sidelined again due to minor neck injury

With less than a week before the annual Garnet and Black Spring Game, several positions are still up in the air going into Saturday’s scrimmage.

One big question entering spring practice was who would replace Devonte Holloman at the spur linebacker position. Redshirt junior Sharrod Golightly and redshirt freshman Jordan Diggs have been jockeying for the starting spot through the off season.

While defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said there is a front-runner for the job, the competition for the spot is still open.

“It’s real close. They both have done a lot of good things,” Ward said. “But I think [Golightly] has probably made more plays this spring. If we had to start tomorrow, [Golightly] would be the starter.”

Golightly appeared in eight games in 2012, recording three tackles in his sophomore season. Diggs played in just two games last year but was able to register five tackles.

Holloman is not the only linebacker that has left a spot open for opportunistic young Gamecocks. The absences of Shaq Wilson and Reginald Bowens have also created competition for playing time this fall.

Indecision at the linebacker position could allow several true freshmen to see playing time in 2013, as linebackers coach Kirk Botkin has suggested. Botkin pointed to incoming freshmen David Johnson and Larenz Bryant for possible game action in the fall.

“It’s a very big possibility,” Botkin said. “Some of those guys are going to have to come in and help us, at least on special teams.”

South Carolina has six signees on ESPN’s list of the top-100 linebackers of the class of 2013 that are slated to join the team in the summer. Bryant ranked eighth on the list for inside linebackers while Johnson came in at No. 32 for outside linebackers.

Tuesday’s practice was a homecoming for several former Gamecock athletes, who were on hand to see how the team looked for the 2013 season.

NASCAR Spring Cup series rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr., gave fans a look at his No. 17 car before practice and stuck around to watch the team in action.

Clowney sidelined: Junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney did not practice again Tuesday after sustaining a minor neck injury in Friday’s practice. He was held out of Saturday’s scrimmage and may not practice for the duration of the spring.

Ward did not seem too concerned about the All-American after Tuesday’s practice, saying that if Clowney is cleared to play again this spring he could suit up before spring practices come to a close.

“His neck and back are still stiff,” Ward said. “Whether he goes another snap, I don’t care.”

Clowney sustained the injury on what Ward called a “freak” play that resulted in a collision with redshirt junior J.T. Surratt as both Gamecocks crashed down on a ball carrier.

Clowney was in good spirits after practice, confirming the injury is minor but reiterating uncertainty for the remainder of his spring season.

“I should be OK after spring ball. I should be coming around soon hopefully,” Clowney said. “We’ll have to see. That’s up to the coaches.”