Sept. 4, 2017
Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.
Sophomore linebacker T.J. Brunson looks to make an impact for the Gamecocks in 2017. He earned playing time in 11 games as a freshman, and while he may not be as well-known as senior linebacker teammates Skai Moore and Bryson Allen-Williams, that's OK for the Columbia native who has high expectations for himself and his team.
"Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard. My dad told me that. He has embedded that in my head ever since I was young. I approach every day by trying to work as hard as I can.
"My coaches expect me to work hard. They expect me to be a leader. They expect me to come to practice every day, ready to work and to keep developing as a person and as a player.
"It's fun. I know what I can do. The coaches know what I can do. I'm real confident going into the season. I'm just trying to progress every day and keep getting better.
"I see myself as a starter. I take that personally every day when I attack the field. Every day is a fight for me. I just want to get out there and help the team as much as I can.
"The toughest part about freshman year was adjusting to SEC speed. Everyone is fast. Everyone is big. On the field, I had a welcome to the SEC moment against Tennessee. I got hit, and I thought `wow, this is big time ball now.'
"This year I want to be consistent and to be a consistent play-maker. I just want to continue to develop and help the team to some more wins.
"I try to prepare myself mentally before I go out to practice. I have to make sure I know what I'm doing, and make sure I know the calls. I just want to come out and work and get better every day.
"Understanding the defense and understanding what the coaches want are the biggest improvements I think I've made this year.
"You have to know what you're doing to play for Coach [Will] Muschamp. You have to have his trust and the coaching staff's trust to hit the field. If you know what to do, you can play fast and make plays.
"[Skai Moore and Bryson Allen-Williams] have been helping me out a lot, making sure I'm comfortable and helping me out with calls and things like that. The older guys have helped me out and brought me along. Everyone is more comfortable with the calls this year. Another year in the system, it's a lot more comfortable all across the board.
"With our defense, we make practice really hard so that once game time comes, it's easy. We practice like game day. Every day is a fight.
"It's really cool that I got the chance to stay at home and play big time football. My family can get to just about all of the home games. I want everyone to see what we have. We're going to have something special here at South Carolina.
"I feel really good and confident with everyone we have."
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