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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Sep 12, 2020; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks cornerback Karon Prunty (9) wears a Black Lives Matter shirt during warmups before a game against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /


The cornerback position is nearly as open as safety. Jaycee Horn, Israeal Mukuamu, and John Dixon have all parted ways with the program, leaving massive voids in the secondary. While there are holes, the South Carolina coaching staff may already have a couple of answers.

Cam Smith looks poised to take over a starting role in his third season on campus. The Blythewood native tied for the team lead in interceptions last year, and took over for Horn after he opted to sit out the team’s final three games. He finished the year with 16 tackles, two picks, and two pass breakups, and has been named one of the SEC’s rising stars ahead of the ’21 season.

On the other end could be incoming transfer Karon Prunty. Prunty was a freshman All-American at Kansas last year, and he could slide into a starting role for the Gamecocks as a sophomore. In that stellar season, the cornerback logged 10 pass breakups and held opposing receivers to a 38.5% catch rate. Both were top 10 marks among all NCAA defenders.

Outside of the top two are Marcellas Dial, Isaiah Norris, Carlins Platel, David Spaulding, and La’Dareyen Craig. Four of those players are transfers, while Craig is entering his freshman season. Those transfers should have an immediate opportunity to contribute. Dial and Norris saw successful JUCO careers at Georgia Military, while Platel picked off seven passes at Assumption College and Spaulding just finished up his freshman stint at Georgia Southern.

A few of the options at safety could also see double duty at cornerback. The Gamecocks need someone to step up in order to shut down opposing passing attacks.