South Carolina football defensive back Jalon Kilgore was one of the top newcomers to the Gamecock program in 2023.
The former 4-star prospect was projected as an early contributor, but with 2022 Freshman All-Americans Nick Emmanwori and DQ Smith returning at safety, not many believed that the Georgia native would play as early as week 1.
However, thanks to a hamstring injury for Emmanwori, Kilgore played significant snaps against North Carolina in the season opener and started his first game the following week against the Furman Paladins.
Kilgore played so well in Emmanwori's brief absence that when #21 returned to the lineup, the Gamecock defensive coaching staff couldn't keep him off the field. The rest of the season, USC's three safeties all split time between the two safety spots and inside at nickel.
On the season, Kilgore was the Gamecocks' 2nd-leading tackler (trailing only All-SEC linebacker Debo Williams). He also was second in the SEC in tackles among freshmen and had the 2nd-most passes defended by any SEC first-year player, as well.
For his efforts, the SEC head coaches named Kilgore to the Freshman All-SEC team. He was joined on the team by fellow Gamecock freshman Tro Baugh, who started more than half of the season at right guard.
Now, Kilgore has earned another honor, this one at the national level.
247Sports released their Freshman All-American squads on Tuesday, and Jalon Kilgore made the cut. It will certainly not be the final award of Kilgore's career, and South Carolina football fans were thrilled when Kilgore signed an NIL deal with the Garnet Trust, ensuring that he would be returning for another year in garnet and black.
Kilgore's older brother Gerald is in the transfer portal, and the former Tennessee Tech defensive back is considering the Gamecocks as one of his top-3 teams.