COLUMBIA – When a player switches positions, even if it means sliding just a few feet to one side, there can be an adjustment period.
That’s what J.J. Enagbare’s been going through the last few months as he gets used to playing defensive end, getting used to new responsibilities and a new position coach.
Because of that, Mike Peterson is keeping expectations simple for a guy coming off a very solid freshman season.
“Just come out and be productive and play within the scheme of the defense; He’s a guy with a lot of talent,” said Peterson, who coaches defensive ends and Buck linebackers. “My job is to bring the talent out of him. He’s kind of new to my group, so he’s understanding how we do things over here. We call ourselves Buck Life and we live a different way. We walk a different way; we eat breakfast a different way.
"He’s kind of getting used to that in our room."
Enagbare immediately flashed signs of promise once he arrived on campus in January of last year, working his way quickly into the defensive line rotation at a spot he didn’t necessarily expect.
He played defensive end, bulking all the way up to 285 pounds as a freshman, and playing in all but one game with 20 tackles and two pass breakups.
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With depth at defensive tackle at a four-year high since Will Muschamp took over, Enagbare got bumped out to defensive end and is now under the direction of Peterson, who’s coached the position the last four seasons at South Carolina.
Enagbare’s slimmed back down to 260 pounds entering year two in Columbia and Peterson likes the natural ability he’s seen so far working with the former four-star prospect.
“He’s got a lot of natural ability. Some of the things he does are natural ability,” Enagbare said. “Now my job is to teach him when to use those types of moves. He’s a natural, man. He’s a heavy-handed guy, he’s got long arms with great size and great quickness.”
Enagbare’s been out the first 10 practices of preseason camp with a knee injury but Peterson said he was out there Wednesday after the team’s off day.
Now comes the part where Peterson and the rest of the defensive staff get to take the natural, fast-twitch ability Enagbare brings to the end position and mold it exactly how they want to so he can make an even bigger impact as a sophomore.
He’s still getting used to the position and how Peterson coaches, but the former NFL linebacker-turned-coach said he’s seen an eagerness to get better and learn from any mistake he makes.
There’s talent to be cultivated and now it’s about teaching him out to develop moves designed to rush the passer from the outside, going against tackles more so than against the guards he did last year.
“My job is to get him to use it at the right time, when to use it or when to run around a guy. It’s been good, man,” Peterson said. “There have been no complaints. He takes coaching. I coach a little different.
"I’m going to love you when we’re outside the building but once we get in the meeting room I’m going to tell you the truth and tell you exactly how you played.”