The Daily Gamecock

Linebackers Moore and Walton anchor middle of the defense


South Carolina linebacker coach Kirk Botkin says the Gamecocks will start the season with Skai Moore, Jonathan Walton and Larenz Bryant in linebacker positions.

The Gamecocks struggled defensively last year, recording only 867 tackles in 13 games compared to 902 by their opponents. Although it was tough on the defensive side, coach Botkin is looking forward instead of dwelling on the past.

“Last season was a tough one, but I try to not think too much about it,” Botkin said. “It is well in the past in my mind and we got a new season to focus on.”

Skai Moore is a Gamecock to look out for in the linebacker position.

A junior from Cooper City, Florida, Moore had three interceptions for 93 yards in the 2014 season. He also picked up one fumble recovery for seven yards. Moore also led the team with 93 tackles. His tackles are the most for the Gamecocks since Jasper Brinkley’s 107 in 2006, and he is the first Gamecock to lead the team in tackles for the second year in a row since Emanuel Cook.

Moore ranked 10th in the SEC with 7.8 tackles per game. Having played 25 games with 13 starts, Moore is the proud owner of 149 career tackles and seven interceptions. He was also awarded the Big Plays award for the defense this spring. Moore says that the defensive line is ready for the first game of the 2015 season.

“I think the defense looks a lot different from last season, especially at penetrating the offensive up front,” Moore said. “The guys are really doing well on beating the o-line one-on-one and I think that’s going to be something the we can carry into the season.”

Alongside Moore is Larenz Bryant in the SAM linebacker position.

In the 2014 season as a sophomore, Bryant saw action in 12 games at the Spur position in the Gamecocks’ 4-2-5 defense. He also played on special teams and is credited with three tackles. Only missing the game against Tennessee, Bryant recorded his first sack and first forced fumble against Kentucky. Despite missing most of the spring practices with a liver injury, Bryant will start against North Carolina.

At 6-foot and 235 pounds, Jonathan Walton is another Gamecock linebacker that should make an impact this season. A hard-hitting junior who made a name for himself in 2014, Walton was named Most Improved Linebacker by the Gamecock coaching staff for the second straight spring practice.

Last season, Walton recorded 61 tackles and ranked third on the team for tackles. Of those tackles, 38 came in the last five games of the season. Walton begins the 2015 season in the WILL linebacker position for the Gamecocks.

The linebackers have been waiting all spring and are eager to start this season against North Carolina on Thursday in Charlotte.