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August 9, 2014

More confident Diggs seeks larger role



Jordan Diggs split time with Sharrod Golightly at the Spur linebacker position last season, accounting for 25 of the pair's 72 tackles.

Now, with a year of playing experience under his belt, the redshirt sophomore from Fort Myers, Florida, wants more.

Diggs was hard to miss at South Carolina's scrimmage Saturday morning.

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The former four-star prospect blew up several plays before they could get started, including one where he leveled star tailback Mike Davis in the backfield for a loss.

He also broke up a pass from freshman quarterback Michael Scarnecchia, but regretted later that he hadn't picked it off.

"It was a good day," Diggs said after the scrimmage. "I flew around and had fun, made a few plays and showed the coaches I really knew my assignments. I did a lot of the little things right."

USC linebackers coach Kirk Botkin has been pleased at how Diggs has challenged Golightly for playing time this offseason, calling the competition at Spur "outstanding."

"It's a good little battle," Botkin said recently. "I enjoy watching it every day."

Botkin said neither player has the edge yet for the starting job, though Golightly started all but one game last season and earned second-team All-SEC recognition from the Associated Press.

Diggs, who also logged four tackles for loss, a pass breakup and two quarterback hurries last year, said he and Golightly, a redshirt senior, have a fraternal relationship.

"That competition just keeps going, but it gets the best out of us," said Diggs, adding that the two often watch film together.

"We come out here every day and try to work," he continued. "Every day, I try to beat him out and he tries to beat me out. It's really elevating both of our games."

Diggs played in the East Carolina and UAB games as a true freshman in 2012 before redshirting that season. His first real action came last season, when he was thrown into the fire along with USC's other inexperienced linebackers.

Diggs said he was thinking too much this time last season, but that playing in all 13 games last season forced him to grow up quickly. Things started to slow down late last season, Diggs said, adding that he's breathing much easier this time around.

"It's a lot more fun," Diggs said. "I know the scheme. I'm comfortable. I'm just out having fun with my boys every time I come out on the field."

Diggs said it's been a "blessing" getting to play alongside Golightly. Diggs, at 6 feet tall and 217 pounds, is two inches taller and about 30 pounds heavier than his senior counterpart. But, he said, they share a similar tenacity on the field.

"We both really play hard," Diggs said. "We're high intensity guys and we want to get out there and be scrappy and make plays and smack people."

Diggs said he plans on contributing much more this season, and that he's working to show his coaches that he can handle any responsibilities they give him. Diggs, who's already begun watching film of Texas A&M in preparation for the Aug. 28 season opener, said he doesn't know if that will translate to a starting role this season.

"I'll leave that up to the coaches," Diggs said. "All I can do is come out here and play hard and keep playing, showing the coaches that I know my assignment. Hopefully, they can build that trust in me. If that means more snaps, I'll be happy with that."



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