South Carolina Football: New Gamecock graded as one of the country's best at his position

South Carolina football linebacker Demetrius Knight (formerly of Charlotte) was graded as the 4th-best transfer linebacker in the country by PFF.

South Carolina football linebacker Demetrius Knight when he played at Charlotte
South Carolina football linebacker Demetrius Knight when he played at Charlotte / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer and his staff attacked the transfer portal this offseason, and in the process, they shored up some potential holes on the roster. The Gamecocks particularly focused on bringing in veteran players at wide receiver, running back, defensive tackle, and linebacker.

One of those transfer linebackers was former Charlotte 49er Demetrius Knight.

Knight, who began his career at Georgia Tech, is a big-time athlete at the linebacker position, and he has been clocked as running in the 4.4s in the 40-yard dash. He was a quarterback coming out of high school but moved to linebacker shortly after getting to Atlanta.

After playing in a deep rotational role for four years at Georgia Tech, he transferred to Charlotte where he had his breakout campaign. Last year, he racked up 96 tackles, good for the 5th-most ever by a Charlotte 49er.

That performance put him on the radar for Pro Football Focus, and the outlet rates him as the 4th-best linebacker transfer in the 2024 transfer class. Based on in-game grades from the 2023 season, he is the top incoming transfer linebacker in the SEC, as well.

The 6th-year senior (Covid redshirt in 2020, traditional redshirt in 2022) has just one final year left to play college football, and he has a chance to fight for a starting gig with the Gamecocks. He joins a South Carolina football program that has a clear starter at one linebacker spot (Debo Williams) and several intriguing options past that.

Mo Kaba (who is rehabbing his third torn ACL), Bam Martin-Scott (who came on strong as a starter at the end of last year), Bangally Kamara (a fellow veteran transfer from the Pittsburgh Panthers), Jaron Willis (an uber-athlete who played more down the stretch in 2023), and incoming freshmen Fred "JayR" Johnson and Wendell Gregory appear to be the top candidates fighting for playing time with Knight.

The team's defensive scheme will play a big role in deciding who will play at linebacker. Traditionally, USC has played a 4-2-5 for a long time, but they finished last year using a 3-3-5 as their base set.

In the 4-2-5, just one linebacker will play alongside Debo Williams, and because of Williams' role as a run-stopper, that player likely will need to be a rangier player.

In the 3-3-5, there is an additional 'backer on the field and, therefore, there is more flexibility in who can play the role. Based on last season, in the 3 LB look, Carolina will have at least one primary pass rusher on the field at the position.

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