The Daily Gamecock

Column: Defensive newcomers who must contribute in 2017

After the annual South Carolina Garnet & Black spring game, football coach Will Muschamp voiced some concerns about the defense. He admitted that there were a lot of unknowns. He also added the coaching staff is "going to be asking guys who aren’t going to be on our campus yet to contribute and you don’t know how that’s going to go.” 

These are four guys that I believe he is specifically referring to:

1. Keisean Nixon

Nixon was a highly sought after JUCO cornerback in the 2017 class. Programs like UCLA, Tennessee and Georgia all tried to get him, but ultimately, Muschamp got him to commit to the Gamecocks. This was a huge recruiting battle for the South Carolina staff. Nixon is not only talented, but is also versatile. He can play anywhere in the secondary, whether it be at cornerback, nickelback or safety, which is pivotal because the secondary needs a lot of help. 

2. Javon Kinlaw

Much like the secondary, South Carolina’s defensive line was ineffective in the spring game. It was unable to get any pressure in passing situations, and the offensive line dominated it when running the ball. While this unit did lose Darius English and Marquavius Lewis, it would have been ideal to see at least one or two guys flash potential in the spring. Kinlaw is someone Muschamp is going to need to step up this fall. He’s a massive individual, standing at 6-foot-6 and 340 pounds, and can play inside or outside on the line. According to 247Sports, he was the seventh best JUCO player and had offers from Alabama, Southern California, Louisville and others. 

3. Sherrod Greene

Greene is a player some fans probably overlook considering he was a 3-star recruit, but he can come in and play as a true freshman. Outside of Skai Moore, the position is a bit of an unknown, and Greene should be able to take advantage of that. He had an offer from Alabama, which speaks volumes about his athletic ability. He could end up being South Carolina’s version of potential first-round pick Jarrad Davis. Davis was also a 3-star coming out of high school, but Muschamp has an elite eye for defensive talent and saw that he was good enough to play for Florida. Do not be shocked if Greene ends up following a similar path. 

4. Jamyest Williams

This is an easy one, but it cannot be overstated how important signing Williams was. He is going to come in and have an immediate impact on the South Carolina program. He could have gone to any program in the country, but his connection with Muschamp and the rest of the staff made him feel comfortable enough to be a Gamecock. At the very least, Williams will be an impact player on special teams in the return game, but I fully anticipate seeing him starting in the secondary at some point this season. Like Nixon, Williams’ athleticism makes him versatile. He could play anywhere in the secondary. Muschamp’s specialty is developing great players in the secondary such as Vernon Hargreaves III, Jalen Tabor and Keanu Neal. Williams is the next in that line.