In late January and early February, when Georgia and Alabama were trying to persuade Bryson Allen-Williams to spurn his commitment to South Carolina and play for them, Allen-Williams and Lorenzo Ward had lots of conversations about what would be happening now, in late August.
No matter how many linebackers the Gamecocks have, the defensive coordinator told the player, you will be in the plan right away if you come to Columbia and do the right things.
Coach Ward always kept truth to me if I come here and learn the plays and learn the playbook, he is going to let me get on the field, hes going to play me and not redshirt me, Allen-Williams said. That was really that security that I needed and the reason I am here today.
Specifically, where Allen-Williams is today is in position to start at outside linebacker when South Carolina is in its 3-4 defensive formation. Allen-Williams has a little edge right now on junior Cedrick Cooper and sophomore Larenz Bryant, linebackers coach Kirk Botkin said.
How does a freshman, even one as highly regarded as Allen-Williams was coming out of Cedar Grove High in Ellenwood, Ga., step right in on a team where veteran linebackers abound?
Come out and prove himself every day, Botkin said.
South Carolinas linebacker meetings this summer, twice-a-week sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays, were voluntary. Allen-Williams attended every one, Botkin said.
That helped him catch up mentally, but hes done a lot of good things, Botkin said. Hes got a lot of natural ability. Hes got a lot of natural instinct. Hes going to be a really good football player.
The BOB position (Big Ol Backer) that Allen-Williams will play requires a player to rush the quarterback half the time and be in coverage the other half, Botkin said. At 6-foot-1, 231 pounds, Allen-Williams has shown an impressive versatility.
He credits just being able to come in and be coachable for his quick ascension of the depth chart, he said.
Thats the biggest thing, he said. As long as you are coachable and go in and do what you are supposed to do, they are going to make sure you get on the field.
Ward never worried he was going to lose Allen-Williams, he said, and only part of the reason for that was that he sold him on playing the BOB position.
Bryson and I had a good relationship from the start, Ward said. Every (recruiting) visit Bryson went on, he called and asked me if he could go, and I gave him my blessing to go because I knew where he was coming to school. The run that Alabama and Georgia made was them wasting money, to me, because I knew where the kid was coming to school. Bryson was told early in his recruitment the system that was going to be in place, and we hold true to our word.