The South Carolina Gamecocks are trying to make a run for the SEC Championship in 2013 and they’ll lean on the strength of their defense to get them there. With the Gamecocks losing their two-deep at each linebacker spot, there was some concern about depth in the front seven. So Steve Spurrier and his coaching staff have made a move in spring practice, moving redshirt freshman Kelvin Rainey from tight end to weakside linebacker. Can he make an impact next fall?
Rainey was recruited to South Carolina as a prospect that could have success on both sides of the football. While he played tight end in high school, many projected him to have even greater potential at linebacker. After redshirting his first season on campus as a tight end so that he could get bigger and faster, he will get the opportunity to show what he can do on the defensive side of the ball.
So far, he’s everything the coaches could have hoped for. His athleticism has helped cover up his inexperience on the defensive side of the ball, though he’s coming along quickly. His time as a tight end has given him an understanding of what offenses are trying to do and how to beat it, giving him an edge in play recognition and reaction. All of that has turned into big plays during the scrimmage portions of practice.
He’s still extremely raw and will make the occasional mistakes that you would expect from someone who has only been playing the position for a couple of weeks, but his progress will only be helped by the increased number of reps he’s seeing this spring. If he continues his steady improvement and starts making spectacular plays on the regular, look for Rainey to become a fixture of the South Carolina defense next fall.