South Carolina football: 4 key position battles in 2021 season

Cam Smith #9 of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)
Cam Smith #9 of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images) /
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South Carolina football needs answers in these questionable areas.

The South Carolina football season is right around the corner with a September 4th opener set in Williams-Brice Stadium. While the campaign is creeping closer, there are still question marks on both sides of the ball. Shane Beamer and the rest of the coaching staff will be tasked with finding answers to those areas of concern.

The Gamecocks’ roster saw a major transition following a disappointing 2020 season. When all was said and done, the program lost five defensive backs, its leading tackler, a former starting quarterback, and the team’s top receiver either through the transfer portal or NFL Draft.

To fill those voids, coach Beamer brought in a number of transfers, as well as the additions from the 2021 recruiting class. These newcomers will battle it out with returning contributors for a chance to earn a starting role this Fall.

Today, we’re breaking down four key position battles ahead of the ’21 season. These are areas in which the Gamecocks desperately need someone to step up, whether it’s to replace talent lost from last year’s roster or to find a go-to option in unproven rotations. We’ll start with maybe the most open position group on the field coming into the opener.


The safety position is up for the taking this year. Gone from last season’s roster are Jammie Robinson and Shilo Sanders, both of whom transferred following the firing of Will Muschamp. Israel Mukuamu is also gone after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. Though he played corner the majority of his time in Columbia, Mukuamu could’ve been an option at safety, too.

Coming in to fill the open holes are Jaylin Dickerson, Joey Hunter, O’Donnell Fortune, Dominick Hill, Jaylan Foster, RJ Roderick, and incoming transfer Tyrese Ross.

Of the group returning, only Roderick, Dickerson, and Foster having starts under their belt. Roderick and Foster could also find themselves playing in more of a ‘rover’ role as opposed to true safety, leaving the back end of the defensive backfield even more thin.

Dickerson has been effective when given the chance, but injuries have severely slowed his growth at the position. He’s missed two full seasons of action due to these setbacks. The redshirt junior did see action in seven contests last year, recording 20 tackles and an interception. He should be a frontrunner to land one of the safety spots.

Fortune, Hill, and Hunter all return for their second seasons on campus. All three were considered big gets on the recruiting trail, but none saw significant action in 2020. They’ll certainly be given an opportunity to see the field this year.

Finally, the transfer Tyrese Ross comes to Columbia following two seasons at Washington State. As a freshman, he notched 33 tackles and a forced fumble. He only appeared in one game last year, making two tackles.

This competition is wide open. Who will take the reins?