Aug. 30, 2016
Gamecocksonline.com will take a position-by-position look at th e South Carolina football roster leading up to the September 1 season opener at Vanderbilt. Today we will focus on the defensive backs.
Lettermen Returning: Jordan Diggs, Chaz Elder, Rashad Fenton, Chris Lammons, Jasper Sasser, D.J. Smith.
Squadmen Returning: Toure Boyd, Javon Charleston, Scott Grant, Shannon James, Benji Russell, Jason Senn, Demetrius Smalls, Antoine Wilder.
Newcomers: Avery James, Jamarcus King, Steven Montac, Chris Smith, Morgan Vest.
The defensive backfield has come under some scrutiny this fall, as that unit has the least amount of game experience of the three levels of the Carolina defense. Head coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson would like to instill more press coverage than the Gamecocks showed last season. No unit would benefit more from consistent pressure on the passer than the Gamecock secondary. The better the Carolina defense is up front, the better chance the guys in the back will be able to cover and make plays, something that has been missing over the past two seasons.
The Gamecock coaching staff has shuffled some players around to try to find the best combination in the secondary. Entering the season opener at Vanderbilt, sophomore Rashad Fenton, a 5-10, 190-pounder from Miami, and junior Chris Lammons, a 5-10, 190-pounder from Lauderhill, Fla., have secured the opening cornerback assignments, with junior college transfer Jamarcus King, a 6-2, 180-pounder who originally hails from Mobile, Ala., the next in line. The coaches have high expectations for Fenton, who is regarded as the best cover corner on the squad.
D.J. Smith, a 5-11, 195-pound junior from Marietta, Ga., and Chaz Elder, a 6-2, 200-pound senior from Union City, Ga., are penciled in as the season-opening starters at safety. They are backed up by Jordan Diggs, a six-foot, 205-pound senior, and Steven Montac, a 5-11, 190-pound sophomore, who joined the squad in August after a year in junior college as King’s teammate at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. Diggs is also listed as the starter in the nickel package.
Jasper Sasser is the other returning lettermen in the defensive backfield. He has seen most of his action on special teams. Former junior college transfer Toure Boyd, and Antoine Wilder, who both sat out last season as redshirts, are the returning scholarship players. Javon Charleston is making the transition from wide receiver to safety this fall, and could see more action as the season progresses. True freshman Chris Smith graduated from high school last December and went through spring drills. Walk-ons who will add depth include Scott Grant, Shannon James, Benji Russell, Jason Senn, Demetrius Smalls and Morgan Vest. Avery James will not be eligible in 2016 following a transfer from Liberty.