There are some notable duos that will likely make up the 22 combined
starters on South Carolina’s offense and defense. At wide receiver there
is Bryan Edwards and Shi Smith. At defensive tackle it’s Javon Kinlaw and Kobe Smith or Keir Thomas. Even at running back Tavien Feaster and Rico Dowdle could line up together. But there isn’t a duo with more intrigue and potential than the cornerback tandem of Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu.
The sophomores have taken the Gamecocks football program by storm,
making their presence felt on the field and their voices heard in the
building and through the media. Young yet mature and talented yet
humble, they are a hardworking pair of defenders that have earned the
respect of their head coach and a two-year team captain.
“I check curfew last year during camp and the two guys not in their
beds are Israel and Jaycee. Well they’re back over here (in the stadium)
watching film at 10:30 at night. They’re supposed to be in their bed at
10. That’s a good thing,” head coach Will Muschamp
said. “Jaycee’s mentality, and I would include Israel, they’re
mentality has become very contagious on our team. That’s the way really
good players do things.”
Practice isn’t practice to Horn and Mukuamu. Quarterback Jake Bentley sees that first hand, marveling at his teammates’ intensity for a Tuesday practice in August.
“I’d say that group has seen the biggest
transformation since coach has been here. I think it’s a lot of credit
to Jaycee and Israel. It’s the attitude they bring each day. It’s
nasty,” Bentley said. “They ran a different coverage and I went to ask
Jaycee like, ‘What are you looking at on that play.’ (He said), ‘Man
don’t talk to me.’ It’s that fierceness that he’s competing everyday.
He’ll talk to me in the locker room, but when he’s out there he sees us
as the enemy.”
To Horn and Mukuamu it’s all about setting the standard, not just for
themselves, but also for the secondary, the defense, the current roster
and future rosters to come.
“Me and Izzy are just trying to set the standard for
the young guys, show them to run to the ball every play,” Horn said.
“We all just try to do our part and show the young defensive backs how
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