South Carolina football: Competing for time in the secondary –

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson have a pretty good pitch to potential defensive backs for the Gamecocks football team.

Sign here and you’ll have a chance to play early.

Perhaps that’s why the Gamecocks were able to sign four of the top defensive backs from the Class of 2018 in December: 4-star cornerback Jaycee Horn (Alpharetta, Ga.), Jonathan Gipson (Hoschton, Ga.), Israel Mukuamu (Bossier City, La.) and R.J. Roderick (Summerville, S.C.).

Three-star athlete Bryce Thompson (Irmo, S.C.) is still committed to sign in February while Muschamp and Robinson, who also coaches the defensive backs, remain in pursuit of another for the 2018 haul.

“Absolutely, they’ll have every opportunity in the world,” Muschamp said, “And I don’t know if there’s anyone in the country, when [Robinson] and I have been together, that has played more defensive backs as freshmen and have started as many defensive backs as freshmen.”

With starters JaMarcus King, Chris Lammons and D.J. Smith all finished at South Carolina, there are three starting spots up for grabs.

Those 2018 signees added by Muschamp and Robinson aren’t the only players who will compete for those jobs. South Carolina’s 2017 class was also heavy on defensive backs, including Keisean Nixon, Jamyest Williams, Jaylin Dickerson, Zay Brown and Tavyn Jackson.

“We don’t sign them unless we think they can play,” Muschamp said, when asked about the newest additions.

“How much they’ll contribute, I don’t know. We don’t know until they get on campus. We’ll evaluate those guys.”

Mukuamu and Roderick are on campus and set to compete for time during spring practice.

“Are they going to have the opportunity? Absolutely. Sheer numbers will tell you that,” Muschamp said. “Obviously, with us losing Chris Lammons and JaMarcus King and D.J. Smith, that opens up a lot of opportunity for a young man to come in and play, especially with as much nickel as we play.

“We had a lot of situations last year where we couldn’t go to dime because we didn’t have six guys that we felt confident enough to get the job done.”

There are plenty of bodies in place to help ensure that doesn’t happen again in 2018 and beyond.

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