USC FRESH­MAN SHOWS PROM­ISE

The State - - Front Page - BY BEN BREINER [email protected]­tate.com

First-year de­fen­sive line­man Kings­ley “J.J.” Enag­bare de­liv­ered by far his best per­for­mance against Akron with six tack­les.

It is inar­guable that the Akron Zips are among the worst of­fen­sive teams in col­lege foot­ball.

It’s also fac­tual that the South Carolina Game­cocks held that team, which ranked 126th in the coun­try in yards per play, to its sec­ond-worst of­fen­sive day on Satur­day. This came de­spite USC be­ing dev­as­tated by in­juries all across the de­fense.

And it came in part be­cause of true fresh­man Kings­ley “J.J.” Enag­bare play­ing an old and new po­si­tion.

The first-year de­fen­sive line­man de­liv­ered far and away his best per­for­mance of the year against the Zips. He had his first ca­reer sack only a few plays into the first Zips drive and closed with six tack­les, twice as many as his pre­vi­ous ca­reer high.

“J.J. played a fan­tas­tic game,” Game­cocks coach Will Muschamp said. “Re­ally got a lot of pres­sure on the quar­ter­back. First third-down rush was out­stand­ing.”

Enag­bare added an­other tackle for loss and a trio of quar­ter­back hur­ries. It brought his sea­son to­tal to 17 tack­les.

And it came while play­ing slightly out of po­si­tion.

He came to South Carolina listed as a big­ger de­fen­sive end, but quickly the Game­cocks coaches aimed to make him a tackle. He bulked up to 285 pounds and opened the year as the No. 4 player in the in­te­rior ro­ta­tion.

For the sea­son, there were ups and down, be­ing thrown into the grinder of SEC line play. He and fel­low fresh­man Rick San­didge played a good amount, es­pe­cially as at­tri­tion

ham­mered the Game­cocks up front.

By the time Satur­day rolled around, he was chip­ping in at de­fen­sive end be­cause of the num­ber of bod­ies lost. In do­ing so, he im­pressed his coaches.

“J.J. is very ac­tive,” Muschamp said. “He’s re­ally in­stinc­tive on blocks.

“He cre­ates some is­sues for you. He’s got good length and good ath­leti­cism and change of di­rec­tion. He’s go­ing to be a re­ally good foot­ball player.”

How he fits in the puz­zle next sea­son is go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing, as USC will be flush with depth. Tal­ented ju­nior Javon Kin­law an­nounced that he won’t go to the draft, and vet­er­ans Keir Thomas and Kobe Smith also have an­other sea­son.

Those three are back, as are Enag­bare, San­didge and former four-star and Clem­son trans­fer Josh Belk, who played spar­ingly while get­ting his weight down. They give USC six op­tions on the in­side alone. And that’s be­fore con­sid­er­ing in­com­ing five-star fresh­man Zacch Pick­ens, who is likely to end up in­side, and any other tack­les that come in.

But in a sense, that’s what the Game­cocks coaches want. They had to throw three fresh­men into the fire and might just see the pay­off.

“They’ve played a lot of foot­ball for us,” Muschamp said. “There’ve been some grow­ing pains, but we’ll ben­e­fit from it.”

DWAYNE MCLEMORE dm­[email protected]­tate.com

South Carolina true fresh­man Kings­ley “J.J.” Enag­bare saw plenty of play­ing time last Satur­day against Akron.

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