“If you’re good enough, you’ll play, and if you’re the best, you’ll start” has become a go-to mantra among South Carolina coaches when talking about players’ playing time.
Based on what Gamecock coaches said during training camp and what the team’s depth chart looks like, freshman linebacker Jahmar Brown likely jumped to the latter category.
The 6-1, 205-pound Brown is listed as a starter at the Sam linebacker spot next to Sherrod Greene with an ‘OR’ separating the two, which means both will likely see first-team reps when South Carolina kicks off its season Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against North Carolina.
“He’s fast, he’s communicating and playing with a lot of poise,” Gamecock defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson said. “And to be a freshman, that’s what it takes. He’s a mature dude. When you meet Jahmar, he doesn’t say much. He’s a quiet fellow.
“But he earned the trust of his teammates.”
And his head coach.
“He had really good camp,” Will Muschamp said. “He’s a guy we’re excited about on defense and on special teams.”
Though he’s listed as a Sam linebacker, Brown also play Will and Dime linebacker during training camp. He also gained 20 pounds in the first two months he was on campus.
“He’s done some good things, man. He’s flashing. … We’re training him up,” Gamecock linebackers and special teams coach Coleman Hutzler said. “Athletically, he did a lot of great things when he came to camp. We’re excited. He’s going to keep going and get stronger.
“ … And he doesn’t have an ounce of fat on him. I wish I looked like him with my shirt off. He’s doing great things. He’s going to be a good player for us.”
The South Florida product attended the renowned Fort Lauderdale high school St. Thomas Aquinas, where alumni include Hall-of-Famer Michael Irvin, Cincinnati Bengals’ Giovanni Bernard and Geno Atkins and former NFL players Leonard Hankerson and Major Wright.
It’s also the alma mater of current Gamecock freshman center Vincent Murphy.
Brown, ESPN’s No. 34-ranked outside linebacker in his recruiting class, had 56 tackles, four sacks and three defensive touchdowns as a high school senior. Had 86 tackles and six sacks over his final two campaigns.
“He’s got 33-inch arms and 11-inch hands and is a guy we think has a tremendous upside as far as his structure is concerned,” Muschamp said on signing day. “He’ll be a 215, 218, 220-pound guy in a year or so. He has really good athleticism and is really smart. He directed the defense the last three years.
“Jason Taylor is the defensive coordinator, who I coached at the Dolphins. Jason thinks he’s a really smart player and is a guy that gets everyone aligned and can really command the defense, which is obviously something that excites me.”