South Carolina football: Freshman J.J. Enagbare shows potential to contribute early

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Among the first-year freshmen on the South Carolina football team, J.J. Enagbare has established himself as a potential contributor in 2018.

The 6-foot-4, 266-pound former 4-star defensive end recruit is among the handful of candidates to join Javon Kinlaw, Kobe Smith and Keir Thomas in the Gamecocks defensive tackle rotation.

“He works hard. Football is important to him. He’s always got a positive attitude, willing to learn, willing to work, but then he’s got the measureables and an unbelievable skillset,” defensive line coach Lance Thompson said. “He’s long and he’s got to get bigger and he’s got to get stronger. That will come in time, but he’s extremely athletic and extremely instinctive.

“Anytime you can find a guy like that, as a coach, you’re like, yeah, because he can do stuff beyond what you coach him to do. He can see stuff and make stuff happen. Not everybody can do that.”

Thompson, who’s in his third-year at South Carolina, currently has three other players vying for a spot in that rotation: Griffin Gentry, Tyreek Johnson and M.J. Webb. Jabari Ellis, Jesus Gibbs and Rick Sandidge will join the competition later this year.

By the time September rolls around, at least two of those players need to be ready to contribute.

“Six would be greedy. Five would be nice,” Thompson said. “Right now, I think we’ve got three guys that are really playing at a high-level, playing at a level where we can compete for a championship.”

The incoming trio will not only up the ante, but also increase the overall level of talent at defensive tackle.

“We’re really excited about getting Ricky in here, getting Jesus in here and getting Jabari in here, working with them and see what they can do,” Thompson said, “Because Ricky is a big, 295-pound athletic guy and Jabari is 285, so we’re looking forward to seeing if we can get them developed and see if they can help us.

“Because in this league, you know it’s a long season and it’s a physical season. … You want guys that can play, because when a big guy empties his tank on Saturday, it’s going to take him a shower, a couple of meals and a good night’s rest before he can get going again, so you want to keep those guys fresh.”

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