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Breaking Down the Linebackers
Aug. 30, 2017

Maybe the thinnest unit on the field this fall will be at the linebacker position, where Skai Moore is the only returning scholarship upperclassmen on the roster. Certainly, senior Bryson Allen-Williams, who has been working primarily at the Buck position this fall, figures into this group as well, but linebackers coach Coleman Hutzler will certainly need more than one newcomer to step up and contribute immediately.

Maybe the most significant addition to a squad in the SEC this fall is the return of Gamecock linebacker Skai Moore. Moore, a 6-2, 218-pound senior from Cooper City, Fla., returns to the gridiron after missing the 2016 campaign following neck surgery. The most decorated player on the roster, Moore led the team in tackles in each of his first three seasons at Carolina and was a 2015 team captain. He was on the Coaches SEC All-Freshman team in 2013, was the 2014 Independence Bowl Defensive MVP, and earned second-team All-SEC honors in 2015. Moore is on the preseason watch list for the Bednarik Award, the Butkus Award and the Nagurski Trophy, and was a preseason first-team All-SEC selection by the league’s 14 coaches and a second-team All-SEC pick by the media and Athlon.

Sophomore T.J. Brunson, a 6-1, 230-pound local product who prepped at Richland Northeast High School in Columbia, is penciled in as a probable starter next to Moore. He got his feet wet as a true freshman last fall, playing primarily on special teams, but will be counted on in a much larger role this season. His continued development will be one of the keys this season.
 

 

Redshirt sophomore Antoine Wilder is a bit undersized at 5-10, 190, but loves to hit and was more than willing when asked to make the transition to linebacker after playing safety and nickel last fall. He should see more time on the defensive side of the ball this fall while also helping out on special teams, where he is a regular contributor.

Four newcomers, including three true freshmen and a junior college transfer, will have a chance to contribute right away. Eldridge Thompson, a 6-1, 215-pounder who played at Coffeyville (Kan.) Junior College, figures to be the most game-ready at the start of the season, but true freshmen Davonne Bowen, Sherrod Greene and Damani Staley, all will have an opportunity to showcase their skills. Bowen is a 6-1, 218-pounder from Simpsonville, S.C., Greene is a 6-1, 223-pounder from Rocky Mount, N.C., and Staley is a 6-1, 210-pounder from Ridge View High School in Columbia. Greene has been the most impressive of the three freshmen to date, and has worked his way into the two-deep at the Mike linebacker position to start the season.

A quintet of walk-ons round out the linebacking corps. Brett Shore, a senior from Irmo, S.C., Mitch Langford, a junior from Richburg, S.C., Spencer Eason-Riddle, a redshirt freshman from Raleigh, N.C., Cole Davis, a true freshman from St. Johns, Fla., and Sean McGonigal, a true freshman from Myrtle Beach, S.C., add depth to the unit.

Linebackers (12):

Skai Moore Sr.

Brett Shore Sr.

Mitch Langford Jr.

Eldridge Thompson Jr.

T.J. Brunson So.

Antoine Wilder So.

Spencer Eason-Riddle R-Fr.

Davonne Bowen Fr.

Cole Davis Fr.

Sherrod Greene Fr.

Sean McGonigal Fr.

Damani Staley Fr.

 

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