For the second in a year in a row, a freshman defensive back was the talk of South Carolina’s preseason training camp, and for the second year in a row, that defensive back has found himself in elite company.
Jammie Robinson will likely start at nickelback for the Gamecocks in the team’s Aug. 31 season-opener against North Carolina, making him the eighth true freshman in program history to start a season-opener.
The other seven? Jaycee Horn, the talk of last year’s training camp, Bryan Edwards, Stephon Gilmore, Jadeveon Clowney, Marcus Lattimore, Bryson Allen-Williams and Al Harris Jr.
In other words, some of the best players in program history.
Robinson, a 5-11, 200-pounder from Leesburg, Ga., has impressed all camp with his versatility, ability to learn the team’s playbook and his play on the field.
“Jammie has done some really nice things at both safety and nickel and he’s going to be a really good player for us this year,” Gamecock head coach Will Muschamp said after the team’s scrimmage on Aug. 17.
The coach told the Columbia Touchdown Club five days later that if the season started that day, Robinson would “probably be our starting nickel.”
It was Robinson — not Horn or Javon Kinlaw or D.J. Wonnum or T.J. Brunson — who Travaris Robinson was asked about first during his 22-minute chat with reporters on Aug. 19.
“He’s a really talented young man. The impressive thing about Jammie right now is that he’s a smart guy, and as a freshman he’s able to compute the calls,” the South Carolina defensive coordinator said.
“He’s signaling and doing all the things like that, which is uncommon for a freshman, to be honest. Especially as a safety, because that’s one of our toughest positions to play.”
“He’s really competitive. He’s got heavy hands. He can cover and he’s smart,” said Kyle Krantz, South Carolina’s nickelbacks and SAM linebackers coach. “He’s shown the ability to learn nickel and safety. That’s a good skill to have on our defense.”
When asked which freshman has impressed him the most, Jamyest Williams named Robinson.
“He has a pretty good skill set, is smart and has good instincts,” the junior defensive back said. “He still has learning to do, but he has stepped up and is trying to play that role. We sit and talk and watch film a lot. That’s my little bro.”
Added sophomore cornerback Israel Mukuamu, “I like him a lot. Nickel is a hard position. You’ve got to be able to be fast a physical. He’s been doing really well.”
Like Horn (who switched his jersey number from one to seven, allowing Robinson to wear seven), Robinson will have a chance to play a significant amount from the get-go.
Robinson was rated the 41st-best player in Georgia as a high school player, the 32nd-best safety in the nation and No. 392th best play overall, according to 247Sports composite rankings. He scored seven touchdowns as a returner in 2018 and led his team to a 15-0 record and a state championship.
“He’s got coverage ability in the slot and can play outside if he needs to, but is a safety, nickel who can play in the slot as a dime as well,” Muschamp said in February. “A very instinctive player and the defensive player of the year in the state of Georgia.”