When South Carolina’s top defense took the field for an early drill in its first spring practice, there was an unfamiliar face in the group at nickel in place of the injured Jamyest Williams.
Wearing No. 31, it was Kenneth Coleman, a late roster add and transfer from FCS Presbyterian.
It was announced Thursday that Coleman, who has NFL bloodlines and a starting season on a lower level, will be able to play immediately. According to a university spokesperson, the fourth-year junior can see the field because the Blue Hose are dropping down to non-scholarship football, changing the dynamics of the transfer and a waiver was accepted.
Most players who transfer up don’t see much, if any, time, but the head of USC’s defense was a little more bullish.
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“Just a guy who wanted to come and play on a bigger stage,” Gamecocks defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson said of Coleman. “He’s more than capable of doing it, be out there (and do) what we do and how we do it. Kenneth is a smart guy. He comes from a football family. His dad played a bunch of years in the National Football League. So he understands the game.”
Coleman’s father Marco spent more than a decade in the NFL, playing for six teams. The Georgia Tech product had 520 career tackles, 65 1/2 sacks, 18 forced fumbles and made the Pro Bowl in 2000 (he had 12 sacks that season).
Kenneth Coleman worked his way to being a sophomore starter at Presbyterian, making 37 tackles with a pair of interceptions and six pass breakups in 2016. He missed all of last season with an injury.
What he could potentially give USC remains to be seen. The Gamecocks have a lot of options at defensive back, but little experience. In the short term, the coaches just want him to focus on the things any new player needs to, if they have to wait or not.
“Kenneth hasn’t played for a long time,” Robinson said. “So just learning the game and learning all the intricacies of what we do will really help him.”