If you’ve kept up with South Carolina football at all in the last couple of years, it is no secret to you that the Gamecocks have been lacking quality and depth in the defensive secondary as of late. In 2015, Carolina was carved up by virtually every opponent they faced, and despite marked improvement via Will Muschamp and Travaris Robinson in 2016, playmakers are still desperately needed on the back end of the Gamecock defense. In the 2015-16 offseason, we saw Muschamp and Co. try to amend the defensive back situation by going the Junior College transfer route, as they brought in both JaMarcus King and Steven Montac. Both proved to be solid additions for South Carolina, and King, who enrolled early, really blossomed right from the start for the Gamecocks and cemented himself as one of the better corners on the team very quickly. And while the year has changed, the philosophy has stayed the same, as the Gamecock coaching staff hopes to get the same kind of instant impact from JUCO defensive back Kaleb Chalmers on the field in 2017.
Chalmers was one of the top ranked players in the state when he came out of Greenwood High School in 2014, but despite his ranking, South Carolina didn’t come after him until very late in the process. Instead, Chalmers committed to Clemson, and was expected to be a contributor in the Tigers secondary this season after redshirting in 2015, but was dismissed from Clemson at the beginning of the year and instead ended up at Northwest Mississippi Junior College. At NWMJC, Chalmers was a first-team all conference performer in 2016 and quickly rose up the JUCO rankings, which was when South Carolina came into the picture once again. The Gamecocks fought off Ole Miss for his services back in December and he enrolled and has been on campus since January 9th.
What He Brings
Landing Chalmers in December was huge for the Gamecocks. He has strong ball and cover skills, toughness, knowledge of the college game and, most importantly, adds more depth and flexibility at a position of need. This is a solid player who has been through one full year of training, practice, conditioning, etc. at a big-time DI school and one full year of the same at a JUCO; so he has demonstrated that he can play at this level before and then showed the toughness to work his way back to this level after getting dismissed at Clemson. In addition, he will, in all likelihood, be trained at both corner and safety, which gives the coaches more options to work with going into 2017. Having him on campus from January to September in huge in terms of him getting tons of time to learn what he needs to in order to contribute right away.
What to Expect
We’ve already seen two JUCO defensive backs work out very well for South Carolina under Will Muschamp in a very short period of time. Both King and Montac made nice impacts for the Gamecocks in 2016, and Montac didn’t even get to campus until August. Chalmers is the 8th ranked JUCO corner in the country for a reason and should be able to follow those guys steps into competing for playing time right away. If all goes as planned, he is expected to be in the rotation and help shore up the secondary relatively quickly for South Carolina.