K.J. Brent gained a lot of experience as a redshirt freshman on the University of South Carolina football team last season.
The former Marvin Ridge High star receiver produce many catches, but did appear in all 13 games. He finished with three receptions for 28 yards, including a 14-yarder against Florida.
Now a rising sophomore, Brent expects to play a bigger role in the upcoming season.
“It was a good to get on the field even though it was mostly on special teams,” said Brent of his freshman season. “I got a couple reps at receiver, but I didn’t get a lot of balls. Hopefully I’ll be getting more involved this year.”
Brent is listed second on the depth chart at his position. He caught one pass for 21 yards in the team’s annual Spring Game in April.
“I feel more confident about getting on the field more,” said Brent. “Coach (Steve) Spurrier told me he’s more confident in me, too, so I’m trying to have a good camp and see if I can move up and get as many reps as possible. I just want to get on the field and play.”
Brent said he’s added nearly 20 pounds of muscle since stepping on campus in 2011. He’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 194 pounds.
“I was 176 pounds my freshman year, so I feel more confident now when I’m running my routes and trying to get separation from stronger DB’s,” said Brent. “I can definitely tell a difference.”
Brent will be one of two Union County products on South Carolina’s roster in 2013.
Former Sun Valley standout Jody Fuller is listed third on the receiver depth chart behind Brent.
Fuller, a 5-foot-11, 205-pounder, will be a redshirt freshman.
“Jody’s a big dude and he lost some weight, which he wanted to do,” said Brent. “He’s focused this year and he’s looking to get on the field. He’ll play special teams because he can block and he’s very strong. I know he’ll fight and compete with all of us to get in the rotation (at receiver).”
The Gamecocks are picked as a top 10 team in several preseason polls after finishing 11-2 last year. They open the 2013 season at home against North Carolina on Aug. 29, a Thursday, at 6 p.m.
The nationally-televised game will air on ESPN.
“We always tell each other to take just one game at a time,” said Brent. “Each game is important and we want to treat every game as a huge one. The rankings are important, obviously, but we just want to focus on getting better and better as the season goes along.”
As a sophomore in high school, Brent suffered a broken leg in a preseason game and missed the year.
He bounced back to make first-team all-Union County as a junior (47 catches for 757 yards), and was an AP all-state selection as a senior when he became the third player in county history to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in the regular season.
South Carolina’s 2013
Aug. 29^North Carolina
Sept. 7^at Georgia
Sept. 28^Central Florida
Oct. 12^at Arkansas
Oct. 19^at Tennessee
Oct. 26^at Missouri
Nov. 2^Mississippi State
Nov. 23^Coastal Carolina