South Carolina already has depth at every linebacker position as the Gamecocks prepare for the upcoming season, but third-year linebackers coach Kirk Botkin said the competition for playing time this fall will include freshman Bryson Allen-Williams.
A former four-star prospect from Ellenwood, Georgia, Allen-Williams arrived on campus earlier this summer and has done nothing but impress, according to his coaches and teammates.
The 6-foot-1, 235-pound freshman isn't anticipating to redshirt just yet, said junior linebacker Kaiwan Lewis last week.
"Bryson Allen-Williams - his focus right now is, he's coming in and trying to play," Lewis said. "That should be the goal of every freshman. He's eager to learn, and that's what's great about him."
A year after putting several freshman into action - including starting roles - Botkin said he won't exclude Allen-Williams from playing as a true freshman - as long as the team's only new linebacker earns the right to play.
"We're going to put the best ones out there," Botkin said. "If he's one of the better ones, it's how quickly he can pick up the defense, which he's done a good job of in just our short meetings this summer. Picking up the defense and being smart and accountable and doing his job, he'll get on the field.
"We'll definitely find a place for him."
Allen-Williams is listed in South Carolina's depth chart at the Will linebacker position, along with the team's leading tackler, sophomore Skai Moore, and sophomore Jonathan Walton, who logged eight tackles, mostly playing special teams, last season.
But Allen-Williams' skill set could make him a better fit at South Carolina's new BOB linebacker (Big Ol' Backer) position, which was added as part of the 3-4 defensive scheme the Gamecocks will use some this season. He will compete with Walton, among others, at that spot.
"He's got a real knack for rushing the passer and a natural instinct to do that, and we knew that," Botkin said. "He's a guy who is very versatile. He was at 235 pounds the other day, very athletic, very strong kid. Great work ethic. We're extremely excited about that young man."
Botkin said the addition of the 3-4 look gives Allen-Williams, USC's second commitment of the 2014 recruiting class, a better chance to play this season than USC's usual 4-2-5 defense.
"It gives him one more chance; we've got one more linebacker out there," he said.