A highly intelligent reader asked a question.
One that I have asked myself on numerous occasions.
This reader, Topix Focus, stated:
"How is it possible that we are in this LB predicament? All of the departed LB's are seniors, so none of them surprised the staff by leaving early, giving them four years to prepare. Heck, Shaq (Wilson) gave them five years to get somebody recruited. This scenario is mind boggling to me."
It was to me as well, Mr. Focus.
Until I took a good look at it.
Let's take a look at the issue. First of all, the Gamecocks have only two true linebacker spots. The weak-side linebacker (WLB) spot and the middle linebacker (MLB) spot. All four of the players on this year's two-deep are seniors. Shaq Wilson (WLB) and Reginald Bowens (MLB) manned the starting positions with Quin Smith and Damario Jeffery backing them up.
So with these players gone, who are the remaining options?
There are 10 returning linebackers remaining on the roster. Seven of them are freshmen. Two of them are sophomores and there is one lonely junior. There isn't much experience there. However, there is a ton of young talent.
So next year, you'll have a slew of sophomores, two juniors and one senior. It isn't as if the team hasn't been recruiting linebackers.
Let's take a look at recruiting.
In 2011 the Gamecocks brought in five linebackers. Three were red-shirted, one switched to safety and one failed to make the team.
The three red-shirted players were the talented trio of Edward Muldrow, Mason Harris and Cedrick Cooper.
They played sparingly last year as redshirt freshmen due to the fact that the team had some extremely talented senior linebackers on the team.
In 2012, the team brought in two more linebackers in Kaiwan Lewis and T.J. Holloman. Both are talented players who played this year.
While the timing is rough due to all of the departures this year, the team could be ok. It's going to take some quick maturity by talented freshmen players. It will be the key to how good the defense can be.
Can these young linebackers pick up where the old regime left off? If they can, then the team will be a national force. If not?
Well, at least Jadeveon Clowney won't give quarterbacks much time to read the linebackers' mistakes.