COLUMBIA, SC — K.J. Brent is approaching this spring with a sense of urgency.
You can hear it in his voice. He is doing his part to show it in his efforts.
"It's a big spring for me," Brent said. "I'm trying to work as hard as I can. It's time for me to get out there and play. It's my main focus. I want to get out on the field."
The redshirt junior wide receiver from Waxhaw, N.C., has five catches in two seasons and set a goal to make a bigger impact in 2014.
He moved up one spot on the depth chart and is working behind Pharoh Cooper at one of the receiver spots.
Brent has done well this spring and is improving, said receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr.
"He's a steady player," Spurrier said. "He just needs to get an opportunity to play. He's a good kid, he's tough, he works hard, he does everything right. He just needs to get his opportunities up."
Brent (6-4, 190) has been a contributor on USC's kickoff and punt return teams the past two seasons. He's seen plenty of reps and pass targets this spring with Bruce Ellington gone and with Damiere Byrd and Kane Whitehurst sidelined with injuries.
Being more aggressive is major key if he is going to make progress and break out in games this season, Brent said.
"I feel stronger, more confident on the field. That's been big so far this spring," he said. "I can't hesitate on the field. I've got to go play fast, hard. That's what I've been focusing on."
Brent was the class of 2011s first commitment and signed with South Carolina along with Byrd and Shamier Jeffery. While Byrd played in 2011, Brent and Jeffery redshirted.
"Me and Shamier are pretty close. We tell each every day just go out there and get it," Brent said. "We want to get on the field this year and make some plays and make an impact."
Spurrier Jr.'s advice to Brent has been to compete and fight to be in the mix this season.
"That's my main focus," Brent said. "I want to be in there with those guys. I want to be throwing with them, catching with them and be on the field as much as I can."
Brent, a hospitality management major, is on track to graduate next May. While he has a goal to play professional football, he's also interested in getting a master's degree and possibly pursuing a career in the restaurant industry, perhaps even owning his own eatery one day.
He's a regular on the SEC academic honor roll.
How bad does he want to be a regular in the Gamecocks' receivers rotation?
"Bad - it's bad this spring," he said, looking toward Williams-Brice Stadium. "I want to get out there more than anything. I want to be on the field on front of those fans this year."
We got something good this year... Great team and we all wanna get better! New team but still the same dream #2014— KJ Brent (@KJ_Brent80) April 9, 2014