South Carolina Gamecocks football spring roster breakdown: defense
{{ timeAgo('2021-02-22 12:15:00 -0600') }} football Edit

Spring roster breakdown: defense

With Carlins Platel's commitment last week, the Gamecocks officially have their 2021 class set, and the focus can turn completely to preparing for spring football.

South Carolina released its spring football roster recently as well, giving the coaching staff its first official crop of players to work with over the 15-practice schedule starting March 20.

With just over a month to go until the first practice, GamecockCentral is breaking down the roster on each side of the ball. First up was the offense, and now the defensive and special teams side of the ball.

Photo by Chris Gillespie
Photo by Chris Gillespie

Defensive line (8)

Scholarship players on the spring roster: Nick Barrett, Devontae Davis, Jabari Ellis, Jahkeem Greene, Alex Huntley, Zacch Pickens, Rick Sandidge

Players left to enroll this summer: TJ Sanders

Highest rated returner via PFF: Zacch Pickens (61.8 overall)

Also see: Observations from Opening Weekend

The skinny: The Gamecocks lost Keir Thomas out of this group but the line is projected to be one of the strengths of this defense. Pickens is a five-star talent and Jabari Ellis had a solid season in his first year as a full-time starter. They'll need to see improvement from a guy like Rick Sandidge but Alex Huntley is another highly-regarded prospect who dealt with injury as a freshman. Transfer Jahkeem Greene could be another impact player out of the portal at tackle.

EDGE (8)

Scholarship players on the spring roster: Jordan Burch, Gilber Edmund, JJ Enagbare, Rodricus Fitten, Tonka Hemingway, Tyreek Johnson, Aaron Sterling, Jordan Strachan

Players left to enroll this summer: None

Highest rated returner via PFF: JJ Enagbare (67.9 overall)

The skinny: This might be the strongest and deepest group defensively. JJ Enagbare is coming off an All-SEC season, Aaron Sterling has been productive in his time at South Carolina and Jordan Burch showed flashes as a five-star, top 20 player in the 2020 class with Tonka Hemingway. Add in the national sack leader as a transfer with Strachan and it gives the Gamecocks a solid stable of players there.

Also see: Florida lineman breaks down South Carolina offer

Linebackers (8)

Scholarship players on the spring roster: Jahmar Brown, Spencer Eason-Riddle, Sherrod Greene, Brad Johnson, Mohamed Kaba, Rosendo Louis Jr., Damani Staley, Debo Williams

Players left to enroll this summer: Kolbe Fields, Bam Scott

Highest rated returner via PFF: Jahmar Brown (77.1 overall)

The skinny: Losing Ernest Jones is a big blow to the Gamecocks and creates some depth issues at the spot but the Gamecocks addressed some of those needs in recruiting with Williams and then Fields and Scott (both will enroll later). It's an inexperienced group with only Greene, Johnson and Staley having extensive playing time and finding a rotation of those guys will be imperative in the spring and then again in the fall adding Fields and Scott.

Defensive backs (10)

Scholarship players on the spring roster: Marcellas Dial, Jaylin Dickerson, O'Donnell Fortune, Jaylan Foster, Dominick Hill, Joey Hunter, RJ Roderick, Darius Rush, Cam Smith, David Spaulding

Players left to enroll this summer: LaDareyen Craig, Isaiah Norris, Carlins Platel

Highest rated returner via PFF: O'Donnell Fortune (68 overall)

The skinny: This is a group decimated by NFL declarations and transfers and will have a lot of new faces as part of White's 4-2-5 defense. Roderick returns after opting out and he'll join a small group of returners. There's a chance some newcomers see early playing time in portal additions like Spaulding and Platel along with JUCO defensive backs Norris and Dial.

Also see: Insider notes on South Carolina's receiver recruiting

Special teams (3)

Scholarship players on the spring roster: Mitch Jeter, Kai Kroeger, Parker White,

Players left to enroll this summer: None

Highest rated returner via PFF: Kai Kroeger (63.1 overall)

The skinny: White returns 69 points away from tying Elliott Fry's school record for points and Kroeger showed signs of progress in his first year on campus as the Gamecocks' punter. It's a group returning all three starters but will need to figure out answers from a returner standpoint with Shi Smith leaving to go to the NFL.