The Gamecock football team took the practice field for the fourth time this spring Monday. Following practice, members of the defense spoke to the media on Tuesday.
The only returning captain from last year is fifth-year linebacker Brad Johnson.
Johnson’s most productive season with the Gamecocks was in 2018, when he played in 13 games and had 24 total tackles with a forced fumble and recovery.
Johnson’s 2020 season was cut short due to lingering injuries around the neck.
"It wasn’t really a thing that we, that they pinpointed and said, 'This is what's wrong,'" Johnson said.
According to Johnson, tissue in his neck had swollen and was causing pressure against his nerves, and even the slightest bit of contact would aggravate them.
When asked what he was looking forward to most in the new defensive system, Johnson said, "Always being able to be around the ball and be in a play.”
Senior edge rusher Kingsley “JJ” Enagbare is one of the four week one starters returning to the Gamecocks this fall. Following off-season hip surgery, Enagbare led the team with six sacks and three forced fumbles in the 2020 campaign.
Enagbare was voted First-Team All-SEC by the league's coaches in 2020. Enagbare will be paired with sophomore edge rusher Jordan Burch. When asked about Burch, Enagbare said “He’s my dog, my youngin'."
“He comes in everyday ready to work; smiling. You never hear a bad thing out of his mouth and he’s going to be something special," Enagbare said. "He brings that fire, that fuel. He’s just ready to work and learn and that’s what it takes to be a great player."
Redshirt sophomore Cam Smith is one of the Gamecocks' key returners for the 2021 season. Smith played in eight games last season underneath the duo of Israel Mukuamu and Jaycee Horn.
“It's the blueprint," Smith said. "I’ve been with them even before I got here. I’ve had a relationship with them; seeing things they did, the sacrifices they made to be where they are right now."
Smith’s 2020 season was also cut short due to injury issues. Smith said he is at playing shape and looks to remain healthy moving forward.
“I just came into the spring feeling like Cam. Feeling like me," Smith said. "No hesitation, none of that. I'm just playing free, playing like my old self. Me coming out and playing like that, having that swagger about myself — I don't feel like nobody can beat me."
The Gamecocks continue spring practice next week, as they work toward the spring game on Saturday, April 24.