What to Watch for During Spring Practice: Secondary

Senior strong safety Brison Williams (12) will lead the 2014 secondary. - Streeter Lecka

Brother, can you spare a cornerback?

South Carolina entered the 2013 season with a decent amount of depth in the secondary, and certainly plenty of experience. The void created by DJ Swearinger's departure was concerning, but with a pair of seasoned cornerbacks and a fleet of field-tested safeties at the team's disposal, there was reason to believe the secondary could mitigate the youth of the linebacking corps. When the dust settled, only Florida had allowed fewer pass yards per game among SEC teams.

Eleven wins later, Vic Hampton declared for the draft and Jimmy Legree completed his eligibility. Then backup cornerback Ahmad Christian announced he was transferring. Then, hey, so did Ronnie Martin. And that's how a thin unit became a dangerously thin unit, leaving us with a SMDH level of returning cornerback depth. Let's have a look!

Rico McWilliams: Received offseason hype as an incoming freshman in 2012 before tearing his ACL early in fall camp. Played in 2013, but was still south of 100% and only ended up tallying a lone assisted tackle in a reserve role. As of today, he is one of your starting cornerbacks.

Ali Groves: The Stone Mountain product who held several SEC offers redshirted last season and suffered a back injury late in the year that required surgery. Groves also missed most of his senior season of high school, which means he's played four football games in the past two years. He is your other starting cornerback.

Jamari Smith: In 2013, the tailback turned cornerback turned tailback turned cornerback made his biggest splash at tailback, scampering for 107 yards against Coastal Carolina. And now he's back to playing defense. He is one of your backup cornerbacks.

Sidney Rhodes: The former walkon earned a scholarship prior to 2013, and has performed admirably in spot duty. He is your other backup cornerback.

We're all optimistic that these four can contribute, but it's not unreasonable to feel uneasy about the quality of their collective resume, which probably includes space-filling bullets like "social media expertise" and "knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite". Luckily, help is on the way in the form of 15 stars' worth of cornerback, several of whom should see the field in 2014. It's within the realm of possibility that one of them may start against Texas A&M. However, none of those players will participate in spring practice, so the aforementioned quartet will have the opportunity to prove that they're more than placeholders.

On the other hand, South Carolina returns its entire two-deep at safety. Senior Brison Williams, who could get some reps at cornerback this spring, has 23 career starts under his belt and a foothold on the starting strong safety role. Former freshman All-SEC teamer TJ Gurley is listed as Williams backup. Gurley, like McWilliams, wasn't quite at full speed last season after suffering a ligament injury in 2012, but should be 100% going into the spring.

One of the more underrated spring positional battles will be at free safety. Senior Kadetrix Marcus—holy smokes, he is a senior, isn't he?—will compete with redshirt sophomore Chaz Elder for the starting role. Elder, who was a top 150 player out of high school, could have the highest upside of any player in the secondary, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him overtake Marcus. Chris Moody and Jasper Sasser are listed at third team strong and free safety, respectively.

In conclusion, the state of our secondary going into spring practice vaguely parallels that of our defensive line. Depth on the interior, but questions aplenty on the outside. It's a good thing we aren't playing any teams that attempt to exploit the edges OH GOD WE PLAY AT AUBURN

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Garnet And Black Attack

You must be a member of Garnet And Black Attack to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Garnet And Black Attack. You should read them.

Join Garnet And Black Attack

You must be a member of Garnet And Black Attack to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Garnet And Black Attack. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker