COLUMBIA – For older players, especially ones entering their fifth season of college football like Bryson Allen-Williams, it could be easy to go through the motions during spring practice. Mike Peterson wasn’t going to have any of that.
The Gamecock BUCKs coach made sure Allen-Williams, who couldn’t do any contact drills this spring after a season-ending shoulder surgery in 2017, was treated like a younger player to make sure he was as engaged as possible with limited on-field reps.
“He’s an older guy but I pick on him like one of the younger guys, and I told him why. You’re the younger guy so I’m going to make you stand up on the board and draw things up,” Peterson said. “I’m going to call on you in the meetings just to keep you sharpened and mentally in tune with what’s going on. He’s been good of that.”
After missing the last 10 games of last season with a shoulder injury, Allen-Williams spent the spring avoiding contact to make sure he is 100 percent ready to go once September comes around.
He was able to participate some in individual drills during practice but spent the majority of the time in a yellow non-contact jersey.
Instead, his primary workout was a mental one: working up plays during meetings with Peterson and the BUCK group and leading a young but experienced group at the position that includes two-time SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week DJ Wonnum.
“We have a rotation in the BUCK group and we’re definitely excited about our group this year,” Allen-Williams said.
The fifth-year senior entering his final season in Columbia spent almost all of his spring practice with Wonnum and the rest of the BUCKs, but his role could be a expanded once the season comes around.
One of the most seasoned veterans on the team, Allen-Williams has bounced around over four seasons to a couple of different positions.
Playing in 40 of 41 possible games, he’s taken snaps at defensive end, linebacker and most recently BUCK opposite Wonnum and picked up 135 career tackles with seven turnovers.
He’s taken almost all of his reps recently at that BUCK position but says he’s comfortable anywhere on the field.
“Wherever they see me fit for me to play,” Allen-Williams said. “I’m comfortable playing everywhere.”
The oldest member of the Gamecock defense, Allen-Williams is entering his fifth season as a Gamecock after opting to stay one final year instead of going pro.
He’ll help anchor an experience defense returning six starters, four from the front seven, that hopes to build on a promising 9-4 campaign last season.
“I couldn’t leave the way I left,” he said. “We lost to Kentucky and we haven’t beaten Kentucky in my four years I’ve been here. That’s one reason, just that game alone.”