South Carolina Football: Gamecock freshman receives national honor for week 1 performance

South Carolina football freshman safety Jalon Kilgore. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina football freshman safety Jalon Kilgore. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

South Carolina football fans don’t have a lot to celebrate after their team’s 31-17 loss at the hands of the North Carolina Tar Heels (though, rival Clemson’s blowout loss to Duke eases the pain a little bit). Despite the feelings of doom and gloom many hold after Saturday, some positives do exist from the performance against UNC.

Quarterback Spencer Rattler and wide receiver Xavier Legette performed very well. The Carolina linebackers, particularly Debo Williams and Stone Blanton, played the best games of their careers.

Another big performance came from an unexpected source.

After 2022 Freshman All-American safety Nick Emmanwori was removed from the game with a hamstring issue, true freshman Jalon Kilgore eventually found himself getting the majority of the snaps in his place.

Kilgore was one of the South Carolina football team’s best tacklers on the night, tallying 12 stops (a number that only trailed Williams’ 14 tackles), including a couple of big hits on Tar Heel ball carriers.

For his efforts, the Georgia native was honored as one of the nation’s top True Freshman Standouts from week 1 by On3’s Director of Scouting and Rankings, Charles Power.

Kilgore’s performance might be a surprise to some, but for those who have paid attention to how things have been going for the Gamecocks during spring and fall practices, the true freshman did not come out of nowhere. The hard-hitting youngster is a really good football player who will force the South Carolina football coaching staff to figure out a way to get him on the field.

If Emmanwori is ready to go this week against Furman, he certainly will slide back into a starting role. However, with the struggles of the Gamecock defense at the nickel position on Saturday, it is possible that defensive backs coach Torrian Gray could move fellow Freshman All-American safety DQ Smith to nickel (a role he has played at times) so Kilgore can play safety next to Emmanwori.

Even if Kilgore does not start, South Carolina football fans can expect to see a lot of #24 on the field moving forward.

light. Related Story. South Carolina Football: Injury update after week 1