Spurs Up recently caught up with Shaq Wilson. The junior linebacker led the Gamecocks in tackles a year ago. He is penciled in as a starter again this season, but has been hampered by a hamstring injury during the fall camp.
What is the difference between the Mike and Will linebacker positions?
With the Will linebacker spot you get to do more blitzing and you get a chance to intercept the quarterback more. In the Mike spot, you have to stay in the box more and make plays. But they are pretty similar positions.
Do you think the defense will suffer any from not having Eric Norwood?
I don't think it is going to hurt us. More people have to step and be more accountable. We are not just depending on one guy to make all the plays. All of us feel like we can step up and make plays.
Which guys on defense have stepped up their play?
Josh Dickerson and Cliff Matthews have stepped up. Those guys are going hard every day. There are also a lot of new people who are stepping up. Quin Smith is stepping it up a lot. Reggie Bowens is watching a lot of film and bringing it on the field. We have a lot of really good players.
Do you feel the need to step up and be a leader on this team?
Yeah, every day I have to come out there and show my teammates that I am ready to play. I have had to become more of a leader. I have become more vocal, and I am trying to lead by example. Just showing them that even though I am injured, I am going to all my treatments, and showing my teammates that I am doing everything that I can to help us win the SEC East.
What are your goals for this season?
Our goal is to win the SEC East, then the SEC Championship, and win our bowl. But first we have to win. I want to be a champion. In some way or fashion, I want to be a champion. I want to win, and bring Gamecock Nation a championship. So that is my goal for the year, to be a champion.
What has the strength and conditioning coach, Craig Fitzgerald, done to get the team ready for the season?
He is very positive. He gives your character a work out, your self-esteem a work out. He makes you believe in yourself. He doesn't let any of us get down on ourselves. Even though I have been injured, he still wants me to be fiery and work out hard.
When you go home to Florida, what kind of reaction do you get when you tell people, 'I am a South Carolina Gamecock.'?
There are a lot of Gamecock fans in Florida because of Coach Spurrier. So a lot of people down there notice and follow you. There is always a lot of support in Florida for the Gamecocks.