Earlier this season, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said he was glad Jamyest Williams was upset.
But this season gave him a second chance.
A knee injury has Ibe sidelined. Nick Harvey has yet to establish a consistent presence in the rotation. So Williams is getting a lot of work, playing in much of USC’s win against Missouri.
He was told he got the starting spot only a day before the game, and it was a moment that lifted him up.
“It means a lot,” Williams said. “It’s a good feeling if I can help my team, just push my team in a good way.”
He provided a pair of big plays that helped swing the game. He flew in to break up what would have been a touchdown pass to get a red zone stop. Later her hauled in an interception that helped stifle one of the Tigers’ last drives.
That moment against Drew Lock, one of the most productive passers in the SEC, was something planned, something they’d been looking for.
“We want him to throw that ball that he threw,” Williams said. “So we just bait him, made contact, fell on me.”
Williams said there’s been some adjustment this season, especially in the secondary. The group hasn’t fully found its groove, especially at safety.
His year in some ways resembles parts of how he played last year. There are hard, dramatic plays such as the aforementioned ones. There have also been some challenging ones, especially against bigger players, as he stands just 5-foot-9, 182 pounds.
For the season, he’s got 14 tackles, with Saturday’s pick and breakup being his first of the season in each category.
“He’s continuing to improve each week,” Muschamp. said “We’ve got to continue to improve communication and things like that, make sure we’re all on the same page, but again, he’s been a very productive player for us. He’s been a productive player last year and this year. I think he’s done some nice things for us.”
He was an All-SEC freshman pick last season, after compiling 38 tackles and a pair of interceptions. With USC set to lose five rotation players in the secondary after the season, Williams will likely have a big role somewhere.
As for the rest of this season, there’s a wait-and-see element. He’s likely set to at least start until Ibe returns from injury after the break. It’s another chance to make that impression, carve out a more permanent, larger niche.
And he knows what he needs to get to that point.
“Just knowing all my assignments,” Williams said. “Just being on top of everything and just adjusting very well and being very focused.”